Both Three-Self and house church venues have been demolished under various pretexts in Shaanxi, Anhui, and other provinces. Exclusive videos and pictures from Bitter Winter.
by Zhou Xiaolu
On October 8, over 40 officials from the Public Security Bureau and the Caotang town government in Xi’an, the capital of the northwestern province of Shaanxi, destroyed a Three-Self church after expelling congregation members attempting to stop the demolition. One believer, in his 70s, was carried away because he had fainted seeing that the venue was about to be destroyed. The church was razed to the ground within two hours, with all its effects buried in ruins.
“The government demanded to demolish the church supposedly because of engineering works needed to fix the erosion of a nearby river,” a congregation member said. “But the distance between the church and the river is quite long. Officials never discussed with us the plans for the demolition; they simply arranged personnel to do it. Such actions are too brutal, totally unreasonable.”
On September 16, over 100 police officers and Maanshan city government officials in the eastern province of Anhui demolished a Three-Self church without informing its over 200 congregation members. Hired workers cut off the water and electricity supply to the church and forcibly carried away an elderly couple in charge of the church’s upkeep. The two believers were taken to a local hotel, where they were guarded by seven designated personnel.
“Officials told us that the church would be relocated but never mentioned anything about demolishing it,” a congregation member said helplessly. “Church account books and electric devices were all buried in the ruins.”
A Three-Self venue in Pingyu county administered by Zhumadian city in the central province of Henan was demolished in August after staying closed for two years ago. According to a county resident, the official reason for the demolition was that the land was needed to build water conservancy facilities. But no other buildings, except for the church, were demolished.
In July, the Yutai county government in Jining, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Shandong, demolished a Three-Self church venue attended by believers from several villages. Officials claimed that the church was too close to the village committee building and that “believing in Jesus meant going against the Communist Party.”
In February, the Xinglou town government in Pizhou, a county-level city in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, demolished a Seventh-day Adventist house church venue after months of attacks against it. The police arrested the church director and some congregation members in October last year “for holding illegal gatherings” and seized the building and all valuables inside.
“It felt more heartbreaking than having my home destroyed,” a church member recalled, still haunted by the traumatic experience of seeing the venue demolished.
Two more house church venues in Pizhou were demolished for refusing to join the official Three-Self Church.