Authorities destroyed another government-approved Protestant church for refusing to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem.
Members of the Three-Self church didn’t know they’d only have one Christmas celebration in their house of worship, but that is all they’d get before the government destroyed it. The Dongcun church, located in Dakou town, Yanshi city, in the central province of Henan, was built in December 2017, after obtaining consent from the local government.
But when the church refused to bow to the pressures of the local Religious Affairs Bureau to raise the national flag and sing the national anthem, the government, in April, ordered that the holy place be demolished, despite congregants’ fierce resistance. Some elderly believers went so far as to lie in front of the tractor shovel, putting their lives on the line in protest. It took multiple attempts by the government to tear down the church, but they finally succeeded.
In the wee hours of September 13, Yanshi city’s Religious Affairs Bureau and Public Security Bureau teamed up with the local government and dispatched more than 50 vehicles and roughly 800 police officers. All the main traffic routes and intersections leading to the church were guarded by police, and no one was allowed to enter or exit.
To prevent believers from protesting against the forced demolition, the head of the Public Security Bureau directed another group of people to arrest the person in charge of the church and detain him at the local police station. Upon hearing this news, more than 20 believers came to guard the church. They knelt down at the church entrance, crying and praying. More than 30 police officers, dressed in camouflage, dragged and pushed the believers, forcibly driving them to a nearby factory, where they were detained.
Subsequently, two excavators and one large tractor shovel were driven into the church. As the excavators rammed into the church building, with the sounds of shattering glass and the rumbling sound of the drilling machine, the church slowly collapsed. The demolition process lasted about 17 hours. This brand-new church, which cost more than 1.8 million RMB (about 261,000 USD), was razed to the ground.
The believers were detained for 17 hours. After they were released, what the believers saw before their eyes, was no longer the beautiful church of the past. Instead, it was a pile of rubble and ruins. The believers knelt down and broke down in tears. They had, after all, invested a great amount of time and money into the building of the church. When members of the congregation learned about the planned demolition, they wrote a joint letter to the township government, begging them to let the church stay, even offering the church to the government to be turned into an elderly home. But, alas, to no avail.
Reported by Jiang Tao