Chinese authorities demolish Christian church

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This screen grab shows footage of the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen city in northern Shanxi Province on January 9. "Officials often prosecute such choices, however, and some of Golden Lampstand Church's leaders have been imprisoned for one to seven years, simply for serving at their church", ChinaAid said in a statement on January 9.

There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China, many of whom worship in independent congregations like the Golden Lampstand.

The order to demolish the church reportedly came from China's top officials, who control the military police.

"China repeatedly cracks down on house churches, which are churches that refuse to register, often to opt out of government monitoring". Millions of Christians, Buddhists and Muslims also worship in state-sanctioned assemblies.

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In China religion freedom is only limited to papers but in actual life there is religious freedom as the Chinese government demands priests to stick to the laws and churches to be approved by the government.

A local resident rides a bicycle past a church in Xiaoshan, a commercial suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of China's east Zhejiang province December 21, 2006. Charges of land or building violations and disturbing the peace are among the most common.

A video shows an explosion reducing the large church to rubble, with people witnessing the scene from afar.

He added: "ChinaAid calls on the global community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building and urge the Chinese government to fairly compensate the Christians who paid for it and immediately cease these alarming demolitions of churches".

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Bob Fu, founder and director of ChinaAid, said. "They were hesitant at the time after hearing rumors that officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] visited the church and took photos".

The Golden Lampstand church was built a decade ago and cost a total of 17m yuan (£1.9m) at the time, according to the head pastor Yang Rongli.

The couple had been preaching around Linfen since 1992, establishing congregations in improvised spaces such as factory dormitories and greenhouses.

The Guardian reports that a Catholic church in the neighboring province of Shaanxi was also demolished in a similar fashion last month, which is stoking fears among Christians that the widespread crackdown on churches continues in full force. That church was demolished only 20 years of its construction without any reason. Officials smashed crosses and confiscated statues, the Eucharistic altar, and other religious artefacts as they demolished the building with heavy machinery, the organisation said.

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A church member who spoke on condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the demolition was conducted by "anti-riot team, quite large".

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