In two instances, local authorities urged believers to demolish church buildings due to their dilapidated state. Later, they prohibited its reconstruction.
In March 2016, the Heyuan Center church in Jiangxi’s Shangrao was demolished with the consent of believers and authorities alike. The dilapidated building had become unsafe, and the believers had already raised over 300,000 RMB or 42,000 USD for the church’s reconstruction.
However, a week after the demolition, the local United Front Works Department officials went back on their word and said that they would not allow the reconstruction. When the church administration threatened to petition higher authorities, the officials said, “This is the higher-ups’ policy; if you want to sue, then go for it.”
The Heyuan Centre church was an important congregation site as heads of 16 nearby churches used to meet here every month, in addition to the believers.
Both the preachers and believers were upset with such blatant deception and assault on their faith.
However, this was not the only such case. In Fujian’s Fuqing city, something similar happened in the Lincuo village as well.
The village church occupied 400 sq meters of land. It had a religious activity site certificate, but in 2016, it was classified as a Class D dilapidated building. The local authorities approved its reconstruction the same year.
The reconstruction was underway, and the first floor was already complete when the authorities put a stop to it. They prohibited further construction by paying regular visits to the site, even tearing down wooden frameworks or cutting off the power supply to halt the work.
After some time, the construction work was stopped and building remains as it was even now. The water stagnates inside when it rains, so the believers have to use piping to pump the water out.
The head of the church said, “Ninety percent of the villagers here are Christians. They have nowhere to assemble properly and are forced to meet here now.”
Reported by Lin Yijiang