Chinese authorities demolish Christian church

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China's Golden Lampstand Church falls.

This is not the first time the church has faced persecution, however.

ChinaAid, a USA -based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship hall to demolish the building, which was built with almost $3 million in contributions from local worshippers in one of China's poorest regions.

A church member who spoke on condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the demolition was conducted by "anti-riot team, quite large".

ChinaAid President and Founder Bob Fu has urged the government to stop demolishing churches and to compensate the Christians who paid for the building.

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But still occasionally pastors are arrested and buildings are destroyed because authorities considered them unofficial groups who gather in a building for worship.

Chinese citizens officially have freedom of belief under the constitution but the authorities tightly control religious groups and churches, which have to swear allegiance to state- controlled "patriotic" associations to avoid any foreign influence through religion.

The similar demolition of a Catholic church a year ago 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.

Since 2013, putting up crosses which is a church symbol is being removed from church buildings like cathedrals.

Worldwide rights groups said the Chinese government has been conducting surveillance and repeated raids on house churches, especially those located in rural areas. These regulations grant the Chinese Communist Party increased power over religion, paving the way for escalated persecution.

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When Yang "Esther" Xue, the daughter of two of the church's pastors, learned of the beatings, she phoned home, but no one answered.

She later found out that both of her parents had been arrested on October 11, 2009 for leading the house church. Yang Xuan spent three-and-a-half years in prison and Yang Rongli was imprisoned for seven years. Patrol wagons guarded the church.

ChinaAid said the building was built by married evangelists Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli with almost $3 million in contributions from local Christians, but that it had never been registered with authorities, a legal requirement.

In an earlier crackdown in 2009, squads of the Chinese regime's security goons descended on the church to smash the building and seize bibles from its members, according to ChinaAid. "At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch", she said. In late December, local officials tore down a Catholic church that was built in 1999 in a small village in Shaanxi without giving a reason for the demolition. "Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen".

According to Texas-based Christian human rights group ChinaAid, the Golden Lampstand Church had been experiencing pressure from the government since it was established in 2009.

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