ICC Note: The Golden Lampstand Church in the Shanxi Province city of Linfen was demolished by local authorities on 1/10. Members of the church were pressured to stay silent about the demolition. There were large number of police preventing a crowd of onlookers and worshipers from approaching the site. Some worry that this might signify another round of crackdown against house churches, given that just last month a Catholic church in neighboring province Shaanxi was demolished as well.
01/10/2018 China (Radio Free Asia) – Scores of police and local officials demolished a large church in the Shanxi Province city of Linfen on Tuesday, thwarting efforts by congregants to halt the demolition and pressuring them to remain silent, witnesses told RFA’s Cantonese Service.
The Golden Lampstand Church was surrounded by officials, while cranes and bulldozers methodically reduced the large building to rubble, according to a witness who spoke to RFA.
“It has now been demolished,” a church member told RF by telephone.
The church member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the demolition was carried out by “anti-riot team, quite large.”
Asked if congregants were being beaten by police, the witness said they had not, quickly adding “I’m under house arrest now” before hanging up.
Efforts by RFA to reach the church member by telephone received no reply.
Calls to the Linfen City government also went unanswered.
Ren Quanniu, a lawyer who frequently works on religious repression cases, told RFA that churches have often been demolished in China without means for members to seek legal redress.
“This is not a matter of demolition alone, but also involves a number of political and religious issues. It is very difficult for believers of this church to solve the dispute by law,” he told RFA.
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