The place of worship was built with the contribution of about 60 thousand faithful and had cost 7 million yuan. The demolition took place using dynamite and bulldozers. Unofficial and official churches suffer the same fate.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - New details have come to light about the forced demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in the city of Linfen on January 9. The faithful have also released a video of the building being destroyed, while they are forced to watch from a distance as the walls, the tower and the cross crumble to ruins(photo 1). Witnesses say that the faithful cried as they assisted the disaster.
Linfen, a city of 4.5 million inhabitants in Shanxi, since 2009 housed the sacred building (photo 2), built with the contribution of the entire Protestant Christian community of about 60 thousand faithful. The church had cost 7 million yuan (about 911 thousand euros).
The place of worship was at risk of being destroyed in 2009, when some of its members, including the pastor and his wife, were arrested and sentenced. As early as January 7, the building had been seized by the police and the faithful were ordered to "stay away". The demolition took place using dynamite and bulldozers.
The Golden Lampstand Church is part of the so-called "house churches", which refuse to register and reject the control of the regime and are not part of the Three-Self Movement, the association that gathers all the official Protestant communities. Most Chinese Protestants belong to unofficial house churches. About 80 million Protestants are unofficial at present; about 20 million members of the Three-Self Movement.
Even the official churches are at the mercy of the regime's politics. In the campaign for the destruction of churches and crosses in Zhejiang in 2013-2015 more than 1000 churches were destroyed, even those that had all the permits in order.
Some church members are under house arrest. In 2009 the pastor and his wife were arrested.
The ecumenical delegation will be in the country from January 7 to 16. Meetings scheduled with the authorities of the Religious Affairs Office and with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement; preaching in the oldest Protestant churches in Beijing; visits to Shanghai and Xian. But unofficial Christians (80 million) are more numerous than the official ones (20 million) and criticize the Movement’s subjection to the Party.
On October 7, the Regulations will be implemented. Criticism of contradiction between the emphasis on Constitution, which claims religious freedom in China and the Regulations which place numerous limitations on its expression. The State Council’s intervention on religions is "illegal”. Requests for a law that would recognize the right also to the domestic churches (underground) and all religions, not only the 5 recognized by the Beijing government.
The faithful were beaten, thrown onto the ground and searched. At least 10 are still in prison. Among them is the community pastor accused of having assaulted the police. The community refused to pay an (illegal) tax on the use of the road to the church.