Chinese state destroys Christian megachurch as religious crackdown continues

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The charity said this is not the first time the church has faced persecution.

Churches that refuse to register do so in order to opt out of government monitoring.

The charity explained that a similar demolition of a Catholic church past year has made Christians worry that "the central government will begin ordering the mass destruction of church buildings nationwide as new religious regulations go into effect next month".

This screen grab shows footage of the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen city in northern Shanxi Province on January 9.

In an annual report on freedom of religion, the USA 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". In 2009, leaders of the church were sentenced to prison on such charges as obstructing traffic.

"The repeated persecution of the Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights", said Bob Fu, the founder and president of ChinaAid, who called for the global community to openly condemn the bombing of the church.

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".

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

"They were hesitant at the time after hearing rumors that officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] visited the church and took photos".

Another Catholic church was pulverized in Shaanxi in province last month.

A local resident rides a bicycle past a church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of China's east Zhejiang province December 21, 2006.

China Aid noted that on September 13, 2009, when the building was under construction, church members who slept at the site to guard it were awakened by 400 officials who beat them and razed the building.

As many as 1,200 crosses have been removed from churches in Zhejiang province since 2015, with officials arguing that numerous demolitions have been down to building code violations.

'ChinaAid calls on the worldwide 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'. The authorities wanted to delimit the religious building construction in the region.

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