Chinese authorities blow up Christian church

China's Golden Lampstand Church falls.   The Guardian via YouTube

The action underscores long-standing tensions between religious groups and the officially atheistic Communist Party that strives for complete political and social control.

Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, Shanxi was destroyed by the paramilitary People's Armed Police forces on Tuesday, who reportedly used excavators and dynamite to destroy the church, according to ChinaAid.

Police and other local officials in the city of Linfen in China's Shanxi province demolished a large Christian church on January 9 and have forced the congregants to keep quiet about it, according to witnesses. "Workers smashed the church's glass", she said.

A villager climbs up the steps toward a cross near a Catholic church on the outskirts of Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi province, December 24, 2016. Millions of Christians, Buddhists and Muslims also worship in state-sanctioned assemblies.

"Chinese authorities are increasingly using property regulations to remove crosses and demolish churches", ucanews.com reported.

A church member who spoke on condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the demolition was conducted by "anti-riot team, quite large". Charges of land or building violations and disturbing the peace are among the most common.

There are about 60 million Christians in China, but the increase of non-state-approved church is causing persecution from the government.

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

Founder of China Aid Bob Fu said that he perceived the government strategy behind pulverizing church buildings is to stop people from constructing more churches in China or it might be preliminary for implementing new religious laws next month. "ChinaAid calls on the global community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building and urge the Chinese government to fairly compensate the Christians who paid for it and immediately cease these alarming demolitions of churches".

But still occasionally pastors are arrested and buildings are destroyed because authorities considered them unofficial groups who gather in a building for worship. He later heard a loud explosion.

The church was surrounded by the authorities beginning Sunday, Jan. 7, with its congregation blocked from entering the building and warned by local police to "stay away".

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

Members of the megachurch, however, have previously clashed with authorities, including in 2009 when the police confiscated Bibles and imprisoned several of the congregation's leaders.

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