Another well-known church in China was demolished following claims of local authorities that the church interferes with the new urban zoning guidelines, reports China Christian Daily.
Witnesses said about 70 police officers and workers destroyed the Liangwang Catholic Church in Shandong province. Authorities asserted that a new neighborhood will be developed in the area, including the construction of a railway station. But, locals argued that the church was far from the proposed development site.
Despite their best efforts to intimidate the Church with actions like this, the government cannot destroy the faith and resilience of Chinese Christians. —Gina Goh, ICC regional manager
Talks about the church’s relocation was still ongoing between the congregation and government officials, but on July 17, 2018, 40 men trespassed the property and forcibly destroyed the altars, pews, chairs, and sacred furnishings. The rest of the group came later with bulldozers and pickaxes. The three women caretakers were thrown out of the church, their cell phones confiscated and destroyed.
International Christian Concern’s regional manager Gina Goh said China’s Communist Party is terrified of the growing Christian population in the country. “The government knew that the demolition in the name of urban zoning would be met with resistance, so it ensured success by taking extreme measures. Despite their best efforts to intimidate the Church with actions like this, the government cannot destroy the faith and resilience of Chinese Christians.”
Meantime, 34 Protestant underground churches in Beijing issued a statement on July 24 calling for the government to acknowledge and respect citizens’ freedom of religion as stated in the constitution, reports Radio Free Asia.
“The normal religious lives of believers have been violated and obstructed, causing serious emotional harm and damage to their sense of patriotism, as well as causing social conflict,” according to the statement.
Church leaders said they are persecuted in China because of misunderstanding and the authorities’ misguided beliefs about Christians. “We aren’t a cult, but a law-abiding group,” said a pastor.
Xu Yonghai, an elder of the Beijing house church Christian Saints Love Fellowship, is not optimistic the government will change its ways towards Christians anytime soon. “They won’t listen to us just because we speak out,” he said. “It’s far more likely that churches will have to put up with further forms of persecution as a result of speaking out.”