A huge multi-million dollar cathedral-style church is being demolished in China, the latest church to go under the wrecking ball in a long-running campaign which reflects the growing concern in Beijing about the rise of the Christian evangelical movement.
The Three Self Patriotic Movement church in Wangling, Zhejiang is not an unofficial house church like so many in China, but is one that is sanctioned by the government. It is to be rebuilt elsewhere and compensation of about $161,000 paid for the loss the old one.
The destruction mirrors that of the $5 million Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, also in Zhejiang, demolished last year just weeks after it was completed. It is being reported in detail on Twitter from Texas with pictures and links by Chinese Christian pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid.
More than 450 crosses on official Protestant churches have also been removed from churches in the province in the last 18 months after the local government announced that all crosses must be taken off the tops of the buildings. However, churches can now afix them to the sides of the buildings but they cannot be too prominent.
Some worshippers are reported to be fighting back and replacing the crosses as they are removed, sometimes more than once a day.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Chinese authorities are also infiltrating congregations to try and find out which party members are also practising Christians. In China, it is forbidden to be both a Christian and a member of the Communist Party.
There are no precise figures but estimates have put the number of Protestants in China at between 50 and 100 million and the number of Catholics at six million. There are thought to be about 70 million party members.