Chinese officials demolish yet another church: in Shanxi

Believers take part in a weekend mass at an underground Catholic church in Tianjin

Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on January 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition.

It's the second large church building to be demolished in the province in the past month. The state-run Global Times newspaper cited an unidentified local official claiming the church did not hold the necessary permits.

A church in northern China's coal country that once served as the worship center for more than 50,000 congregants is no longer standing. China repeatedly cracks down on house churches, which are churches that refuse to register, often to opt out of government monitoring.

Christians in China prefer to worship independently in house churches because there are no such restraints.

The church had faced "repeated persecution" by the Chinese government, said ChinaAid.

Yang Rongli, who was arrested in 2011 for being a part of the church said she saw the demolition.

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.

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

Evangelist Yang Xuan, the founder of the church, spent 3.5 years in prison and Yang Caizhen, his wife, was sentenced to two years in a re-education labor camp and beaten while incarcerated. Patrol wagons guarded 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". At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch.

Most recently, a chinese church was demolished by government authorities. In late December, local officials tore down a Catholic church that was built in 1999 in a small village in Shaanxi without giving a reason for the demolition.

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". "Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen".

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those experienced by Golden Lampstand Church, in order to call out China's abuses of Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

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