In the latest blatant attack against the church-at-large in communist China, Chinese government authorities tore down a megachurch’s building in the Funan, Anhui region, starting the demolition while the congregation was worshipping. The church’s pastors were also arrested and detained.
The incident happened over the weekend, according to the international non-profit Christian human rights organization China Aid.
Government officials did not provide any documents ordering the 3,000-seat church building’s demolition. But they did produce arrest warrants for leaders Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao. Both pastors were detained on the charge of suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
What’s even more frightening to members of the congregation is that the church is a part of the communist country’s officially recognized church network.
“This is yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime,” said ChinaAid President Bob Fu. “The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”
Reports about attacks against Christians and other religious groups have been escalating out of China in recent years, including bulldozing churches and mosques, barring Tibetan children from Buddhist religious studies and incarcerating more than a million members of Islamic ethnic minorities in what are termed “re-education centers.”
President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has ordered that all religions must “Sinicize” to ensure they are loyal to the officially atheistic party.
China’s government requires that Protestants worship only in churches recognized and regulated by the officially sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement, although many more are part of independent congregations.
The attack against the church in Funan is just as brazen as the raid staged by Chinese officials last December against the Early Rain Covenant Church. Several members of the church were imprisoned along with its pastor Wang Yi.
The unregistered Calvinist church started in 2006 and now claims more than 500 members.
As CBN News reported, Pastor Yi’s home was raided and ransacked by police on Dec. 9. The raid may have been triggered by a 7,300-word manifesto titled “Meditations on the Religious War,” which Yi wrote and posted on social media.
In it, he condemns China’s Communist Party and urges Christians to perform acts of civil disobedience.
Yi criticized the government for forcing its citizens to engage in “Caesar worship” by treating President Xi Jinping like a god. He wrote that ideology “is morally incompatible with the Christian faith and all those who uphold freedom of the mind and thought.”
In June, Yi’s wife Jiang Rong, 46, and their son were released after spending six months in prison.
There has still been no official word from the Chinese government about Pastor Yi, his present condition, or his whereabouts.