Chinese officials allege, on false grounds, that the buildings on the Chinese Christian Church Prayer Mountain broke laws.
In Chengwan township of Tongbai county, in China’s central province of Henan, there sits a mountain, one that has provided a beautiful landscape and ground for the construction of the Chinese Christian Church Prayer Mountain, but no longer: Authorities have demolished the buildings used for worship.
The construction of the buildings on the mountain behind a Christian church began in 2014. The whole territory took up 7,000 square meters and contained several buildings. Adding to the beauty of the Prayer Mountain, there were seven golden lampstands worth roughly 300,000 RMB (about $43,700). In total, it cost more than two million RMB (about $291,300) to construct the buildings.
And now it’s all a pile of rubble.
That’s thanks to the authorities from Tongbai county’s United Front Work Department, who sources say, arrived on October 17 and deemed all of the Chinese Christian Church Prayer Mountain’s buildings as illegal on the made-up violations of “private occupation of arable land,” “illegal construction,” “destruction of the ecological environment,” among others.
Consequently, the central government ordered that the buildings be demolished entirely.
The following day, the local government dispatched about 30 personnel and with them, two large cranes, an excavator, a rock-drilling machine as well as several police cars. They arrived at the Prayer Mountain and immediately started carrying out the forced demolition. The police set up blockades at all the intersections leading up to the Prayer Mountain and prohibited believers from entering or exiting. Again, all local cellphone signals were blocked.
In four days, all of the buildings on the Prayer Mountain were destroyed and turned into ruins. Then government personnel ordered construction workers to use the excavator to dig a large pit, about two meters deep, to bury the remains.
“Initially, we bought a barren mountain,” the person in charge of the church said. “Approval was received from the county and township government departments. When applying for a permit, the director of the county’s Religious Affairs Bureau said that as long as these procedures were completed, it would be protected by law.”
But then in early March, the county government forcibly demolished the cross on the top of one building because it was “too tall and too unsafe.”
In late August, five officials — including the director of the county’s Religious Affairs Bureau — brought construction workers and forcibly demolished all of the crosses (about 50 in total) on Prayer Mountain.
The demolition of Prayer Mountain has dealt a great blow to the local believers.
One believer who participated in building of the Prayer Mountain said that when in the beginning, there were no roads on the mountain, making the conditions for construction particularly poor. All the building materials were carried and lifted by the believers, who gradually transported the materials one step at a time.
“The believers made painstaking efforts and spent their hard-earned money to build the Prayer Mountain,” one believer said. “For us believers, it was our home. Now that it has been demolished, our home has been lost.”
Reported by Jiang Tao