According to China Aid, authorities bombed and demolished the Golden Lampstand Church, an unregistered church that cost $2.6 million to build in 2009. Chinese military police detonated explosives in underground worship halls beneath the church and then demolished the above-ground building.
Yang Rongli, who has been under government surveillance since her release in 2016, described the demolition to a ChinaAid reporter, saying, “…the police surrounded the Golden Lampstand Church. Patrol wagons guarded the church. Workers smashed the church’s glass. At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch. The village head and the police from the local police station warned all the believers against entering the church. Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen.”
China Aid notes that some of Golden Lampstand’s leaders have been imprisoned for periods ranging from one to seven years simply for serving at the church. As the church was being built in 2009, China Aid said church members slept at the construction site and were awakened by 400 officials and beaten as the building was razed.
“The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights,” ChinaAid President and Founder Bob Fu said. “ChinaAid calls 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.”
When Yang “Esther” Xue, the daughter of two of the church’s pastors, learned of the beatings, she phoned home, but no one answered. Later, she learned that both of her parents had been arrested on Oct. 11, 2009, as punishment against house church leaders. Yang Xuan, her father, spent three-and-a-half years in prison, and her aunt, Yang Rongli, spent seven years incarcerated and received a 30,000 Yuan ($4,594.00 USD) fine. Her mother, Yang Caizhen was sentenced to two years in a re-education labor camp and beaten while incarcerated, while her uncle, Wang Xiaoguang, received a three-year jail term and fined 10,000 Yuan ($1,531.00 USD).
China Aid reports China repeatedly cracks down on house churches, which are churches that refuse to register, often to opt out of government monitoring.
A similar demolition of a Catholic church happened last year, which is prompting Christians to worry that the central government will begin ordering the mass destruction of church buildings nationwide as new religious regulations go into effect next month. These regulations grant the Chinese Communist Party increased power over religion, paving the way for escalated persecution.