Communist Chinese authorities demolish well-known evangelical church

People’s Armed Police forces used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen in Shanxi province
People’s Armed Police forces used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen in Shanxi province

Authorities in northern China’s coal country have demolished a well-known Christian mega-church, underscoring long-standing tensions between religious groups and the officially atheistic Communist Party.

Witnesses and overseas activists say paramilitary People’s Armed Police forces used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen in Shanxi province.

In this image taken from video shot Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, by China Aid and provided to the Associated Press, people watch the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen in northern China's Shanxi province. Witnesses and overseas activists say paramilitary troops known as the People's Armed Police used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, a Christian mega-church that clashed with the government. (China Aid via AP)
In this image taken from video shot Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, by China Aid and provided to the Associated Press, people watch the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen in northern China’s Shanxi province. Witnesses and overseas activists say paramilitary troops known as the People’s Armed Police used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, a Christian mega-church that clashed with the government. (China Aid via AP)

ChinaAid, a U.S.-based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship hall to demolish the building, which was built with nearly $3 million in contributions from local worshippers in one of China’s poorest regions.

The church, with a congregation of more than 50,000, has long clashed with the government. Hundreds of police and hired thugs smashed the church and seized Bibles in an earlier crackdown in 2009 that ended with church leaders receiving long prison sentences.

At the time, church leaders were charged with illegally occupying farmland and disturbing traffic order by getting together, according to state media.

There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China, many of whom worship in independent congregations like the Golden Lampstand. Millions of Christians, Buddhists and Muslims also worship in state-sanctioned assemblies.

But the surging popularity of non-state-approved churches has raised the ire of authorities, wary of any threats to the party’s rigid political and social control.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed under China’s constitution, so local authorities are often seen as using technicalities to attack unregistered churches. Charges of land or building violations and disturbing the peace are among the most common.

The state-run Global Times newspaper, citing an unidentified local official, reported Wednesday the official reason for the demolition was that it did not hold the necessary permits.

Religious groups must register with local religious affairs authorities under Chinese law, the report said. The church was illegally constructed nearly a decade ago in violation of building codes, it said.

Pictures distributed by ChinaAid showed the church’s steeple and cross toppled in a large pile of rubble.

A pastor at a nearby church, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw large numbers of paramilitary police on Tuesday blanketing the area around the church, which was being taken apart by heavy machinery.

The Golden Lampstand Church was built by husband and wife evangelists Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli as a permanent home for their followers.

The couple had been preaching around Linfen since 1992, establishing congregations in improvised spaces such as factory dormitories and greenhouses.

While authorities did not block the church’s construction, they later cracked down, and the couple and other church leaders were sent to prison.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Niemals

    Did they use the ISIS ideology to carry out this shameless action?

    • master09

      What would the world say if this was a mosque or a temple. God forbid.

      • Hind Abyad

        Your partners
        “Christian Zionists, most of whom are part of the world’s 700 million-strong Evangelical community, view themselves as the Jews’ partners in God’s plan. Like many Orthodox Jews, they believe that after a world war, the Messiah will take the throne of a Jewish kingdom in Jerusalem and lead the world…”

        • master09

          Just asking, are we on the same subject.
          I get confused very easy.

          • Y K

            Hind’s world is entirely composed of Jooz, Jooz, and more Jooz. And they are all out to get her. 🙂

          • Hind Abyad

            Hi Master09

  • Hannibal

    Communism is a failed experiment. Only a couple of shithole countries still espouse it.