State-Sanctioned Church in Shandong Province Demolished
Catholic Church Torn Down by More Than 70 People
07/18/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – More than 70 police officers and workers forcibly demolished Liangwang Catholic Church in China’s Shandong province on July 17. Liangwang Catholic Church is a state-sanctioned church and had been registered since 2006.
Three church caretakers, Gao Rongli, Zhang Siling and Li Xiangmei, who were inside the church, had their cellphones confiscated and destroyed before they were driven out of the building. The church was then razed in about 15 minutes with bulldozers and pickaxes.
According to Asia News, local authorities have adopted a new urban plan that includes the development of a new neighborhood with a train station. The removal of the church was included in the plan even though the church did not interfere during the process.
The congregation and the local religious affairs office were in communication with the authorities to find a place to relocate the church when, without warning or proper documentation, authorities came to destroy the church, the altars, benches, chairs, and furnishings inside.
Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, a US-based group that highlights Christian persecution in China, shared several photos of the scene on their Facebook page.
It is not uncommon for the Chinese government to demolish churches for urban zoning or commercial purposes. A Catholic church near Xi’an in Shaanxi province was forcibly demolished last December, despite having all of the necessary permits for the legal use of the land. Given that the building was close to one of the exits on the Xi’an-Hanzhong highway, the government likely intended to diminish the Christian presence or reuse the land for other purposes.
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The disproportionate manpower used to demolish this church goes to show that China is fearful of Christians. The government knew that the demolition in the name of urban zoning would be met with resistance, so it ensured success by taking extreme measures. Despite its best efforts to intimidate the Church with actions like this, the government cannot destroy the faith and resilience of Chinese Christians.”
For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org