Officially freedom of religion is guaranteed under China’s constitution. Unofficially however, the continued rise in popularity of Christianity among the Chinese populous has been leading to an increasing crackdown on the faith, in the world’s largest country. The recent government ordered demolition of the iconic Golden Lampstand megachurch being just the latest example of this.
Over the protests of the Church’s loyal congregation and even many overseas activists who had traveled to the country in hopes of stopping the destruction. Members of China’s militarized police force used everything from dynamite to excavators to destroy every last bit of one of the countries largest churches. The congregation of more than 50,000 adherents now left without a place to gather and practice their faith.
The church which had cost over 2.6 million to construct, was built with funds gathered entirely from local worshipers who lived in the Shanxi province of China, one of the countries poorest regions. It’s also worth noting that this was hardly the first time the congregation had been faced with unconstitutional harassment from China’s Communist government. As all the way back in 2009 police forces had previously stormed the church, seizing all copies of the bible and arresting local religious leaders.
This latest act of government aggression now leaving the over 60 million Christians in China uncertain about the future. As it’s become obvious that authorities are increasingly unwilling to ignore the growing spread of Christianity in the country. While as mentioned previously, freedom of religion is supposed to be guaranteed under the Chinese constitution. Authorities often use strict technicalities in the law to target what they claim to be unregistered and unapproved congregations. The destruction of the Golden Lampstand church is a prime example of this actually, with state-run media reporting the official reason for its demolition being simply the building’s apparent lack of proper permits.
The proper paperwork of course becoming increasingly hard to get for Christians inside China, leading to the faith being slowly forced underground in a country that at the same time claims to guarantee religious freedom. ChinaAid, a US based Christian advocacy group released the following statement regarding the demolition, “the repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights.”
Going even farther the group has since called “on the international 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.” While it remains unlikely that the Communist Chinese government will offer up any such reparations to the many thousands now without a religious home. It’s only be putting increased attention on these Chinese civil liberty abuses that we can ever hope for actual change in the near future.
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