Officials in China's central Henan province have demolished a church under construction and detained around 40 Christians after the Communist Party declared that the structure being built was illegal.
On May 5, around 300 police officers and city inspectors stormed the under-construction Shuangmiao Christian Church in Henan and destroyed the unfinished building. They also detained about 40 Christian congregants. A number of church members were beaten and shoved to the ground, China Aid recently learned.
According to one member of the Shuangmiao Christian Church, the scene was comparable to the Japanese invasion during the World War II where the church building ended up completely destroyed.
The demolition came after the Communist Party declared that the church was an "illegal structure." Its personnel were also instructed to go through the belongings of the worshippers and of the construction workers as well. The officials were able to confiscate phones, laptops, money, and jewelry, and even destroyed offering baskets in the place.
Aside from that, the demolition was reportedly a form of punishment for the church's refusal to pay 4,000 yuan (US$588) to villagers as an arbitrary road usage fee. The church tried to fix the problem, but their pastor Zhang Di ended up being falsely charged with attacking the police station as well as a village personnel. He was also charged with limiting the freedom of other people.
Most of the Christians who were detained have already been freed, but eight are still under police custody. Authorities also transferred the case to the procuratorate, which will decide if Pastor Zhang and vice director Lu Yuexia will be formally arrested.
Shuangmiao Christian Church is now asking for the immediate release of the eight Christians still detained by police. They also want punishment for the authorities who violently attacked the congregants.
The situation of Shangmiao is not unique in Henan. In October 2016, China Aid ran a story about more than 20 local Christian who were beaten by Nanle County Public Security Bureau officials and detained by police in September because of their faith.
Chinese House Church Alliance pastor Zhang Mingxuan said the beating of house church members is a violation of China's Constitution. He also asked the international community to pray for the persecuted Christians in Henan because they are being controlled and attacked by the public security bureau.