by WorldTribune Staff, June 11, 2017
Christians in China’s Henan province were dragged out of their place of worship by police who then demolished the church that was still under construction, a report said.
About 300 police officers and officials demolished the Shuangmiao Christian Church after police dragged out around 40 worshipers, according to the China Aid charity.
Eight Christians remain in custody following the incident amid a crackdown on churches by the communist regime, the UK’s Express reported on June 11.
“During the demolition, officials beat dozens of church members, pushing them to the ground and twisting their hands,” China Aid said. “The church was completely razed, and a church member likened the scene to the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.”
Shuangmiao Christian Church Pastor Zhang Di was summoned for questioning last month and accused of assaulting police officers and attacking a village official.
China Aid added: “The cases against Pastor Zhang Di and the church’s vice director, Lu Yuexia, were recently transferred to the Procuratorate, which will decide whether or not to formalize their arrest.”
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate is the highest agency in China responsible for prosecutions.
According to churchgoers, President Xi Jinping’s Communist Party ordered the Shuangmiao Christian Church to be destroyed after branding the building an “illegal structure”.
China Aid said the police confiscated phones and other personal property from worshipers, smashed offering boxes, and stole laptops, money, and jewelry.
The demolition came amid a row between the church and government over allegations the church refused to pay an arbitrary road usage fee, the Express report said.
Amid China’s crackdown on religion in recent months, churches not sanctioned by the government have been put under surveillance while hundreds of Christians were arrested for disturbing public order for offenses such as holding bible study groups and displaying crucifixes outside their homes, the report said.
There have also been reports of Christians being banned from praying and singing hymns and crosses being removed from buildings.
According to a report from U.S.-based Freedom House, persecution of Chinese Christians and other faith groups has “intensified” in recent years.
“Combining both violent and nonviolent methods, the (Communist) Party’s policies are designed to curb the rapid growth of religious communities and eliminate certain beliefs and practices,” the report said.
There are an estimated 72 to 92 million Christians in China, the second largest faith group behind Chinese Buddhists.