Beijing – Several people are said to be trapped under the rubble of a once massive church building after the Chinese military used bombs to bring down the house of worship during a sudden raid yesterday.

The Golden Lampstand Church, built by an evangelistic couple- Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli as a permanent home for followers was demolished by Chinese authorities yesterday, as China continues its crackdown on Christianity.

An anonymous pastor at a nearby church reported that he saw a large number of paramilitary police on Tuesday, surrounding the church, which was then taken apart by heavy machinery.

He added that he heard a loud explosion sometime later.

According to other witnesses and overseas activists, the Paramilitary People’s Armed Police used dynamite and excavators to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, which has a congregation of over 50,000 in Linfen, Shanxi providence.

The authorities did not block the church’s construction but later destroyed it, imprisoning the couple and other church leaders, while inflaming long-standing tensions between religious groups and The Communist Party.

China Aid, a US-based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship base to demolish the building which was constructed with approximately $2.6 million (£1.9 million) in contribution from local worshippers in one of China’s poorest region.

The China Aid group indicated that The Golden Lampstand Church had faced repeated persecution by the Chinese government, which was more prevalent in 2006, when hundreds of police and hired thugs smashed the building and seize Bibles, ending with the arrest and imprisonment of several Church leaders.

However, the church was renovated to its former glory and was welcoming members when the most recent demolition tragedy occur.

This has since caused more than 100 church members to protest in front of government offices this week; – an act for which they face possible arrest.

According to China Aid group members, the demolition of another church occurred on 27th December 2017 in Xi’an, where officials smashed crosses and confiscated statues, the Eucharistic altar and other religious artefacts as they demolished the building of a Catholic Church with heavy machinery.

Despite the fact that there is an estimated 60 million Christians in China, government officials indicated that the buildings did not hold the necessary permit, and was, therefore, operating in contravention of land and building approvals and was also disturbing the peace.

The Christian Scroll understands that freedom of religion is guaranteed under China’s constitution, but is more of a cosmetic right rather than an entitlement.

“The repeated persecution of The Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights”, said Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid.

China Aid has since called on the international community to openly condemn the bombing of these churches, and urges the government to immediately seize the demolition of churches, while fairly compensating Christians who paid for them.