Earlier this week, a church in Northern China was demolished and it is now the second church demolished in less than a month.
As the demolition continues, it immediately sparked fears of a wider campaign against Christians as authorities prepare to enforce new laws on religion.
According the witnesses and the head pastor, the police prevented access off the area around the Golden Lampstand Church church in Linfen, Shanxi province and on Sunday before the construction workers detonated explosives inside. After the initial explosion, crews broke apart the remaining pieces with diggers and jackhammers.
However, it is known that China guarantees freedom of religion on paper, but in real life, authorities heavily regulate many aspects of religious life. Churches must be officially sanctioned and pastors must adhere to a host of rules imposed by the government.
The restrictive policies have given rise to “house” churches, independent places of worship that exist outside official channels. Authorities periodically arrest pastors or demolish buildings used by unsanctioned congregations.
The authorities have also taken a harder line since 2013 against towering crosses and large cathedrals. Officials hurled a sweeping crackdown on churches in Zhejiang province that accelerated in 2015, and more than 1,200 crosses have been removed, according to activists.
Furthermore, in an annual report on freedom of religion, the US State Department found that “the government physically abused, detained, arrested, tortured, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices”.
After the explosion, a pastor at a nearby church arrived at the Golden Lampstand church and watched the construction crews break apart the remains of the building. The pastor asked his name not be published for fear of retaliation by the authorities.
Read more at Christian Daily.