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Mega-church destroyed in crackdown on Christians

12 January 2018

Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on January 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition.

Chinese authorities detonated explosives in an underground worship hall earlier this week, ChinaAid, a US -based Christian advocacy group, reports.

A church in northern China's coal country that once served as the worship center for more than 50,000 congregants is no longer standing.

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In an earlier crackdown in 2009, squads of the Chinese regime's security goons descended on the church to smash the building and seize bibles from its members, according to ChinaAid.

China Aid noted that on September 13, 2009, when the building was under construction, church members who slept at the site to guard it were awakened by 400 officials who beat them and razed the building.

The church was illegally constructed almost a decade ago in violation of building codes, it said.

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Freedom of worship was harshly restricted previous year in China, where authorities "physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups", the U.S. State Department said in an annual report released in August.

An annual report of United States department conducted on religion freedom noted that registered and non registered religious practitioners are physically punished by the government of China.

A demolition crew broke apart the remaining pieces of the church after the explosion with diggers and jackhammers. The couple and other church leaders were sentenced to prison on charges including illegally occupying agricultural land and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. "Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen", Yang Rongli told a ChinaAid reporter. Workers smashed the church's glass.

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Global Times, a state newspaper, described the building's destruction as part of a "citywide campaign to remove illegal buildings", and quoted an unidentified official as saying that the church had been "secretly" constructed without proper permits and was initially disguised as a warehouse. The village head and the police from the local police station warned all the believers against entering the church.

"My heart was sad to see this demolition and now I worry about more churches being demolished, even my own", he said. "This church was built in 2008, there's no reason for them to destroy it now", he said.

ChinaAid President and Founder Bob Fu has urged the government to stop demolishing churches and to compensate the Christians who paid for the building.

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"The repeated persecution of the Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights", said Bob Fu, the founder and president of ChinaAid, who called for the worldwide community to openly condemn the bombing of the church.

Mega-church destroyed in crackdown on Christians