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Chinese church demolition condemned: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011 p 6. November 21, 2011

Posted by geoconger in China, Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
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The banner on the church building reads: “Return church property!

Return our church building! Religious discrimination! Destroying Century-Old Historical Landmark!” : Photo courtesy ChinaAid

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Real estate developers in league with local government officials have begun tearing down a 125-year old former Anglican mission church in China’s Shantung province.  However, the North China Mission church in Tai-an was designated a national historic landmark in 1994 and is currently an approved congregation of the Three Self Patriotic Movement [TSPM] – China’s official Protestant Church.

The battle in Tai-an is part of a larger struggle between developers and conservationists in China’s booming Eastern coastal provinces.  It also highlights the precarious state of China’s property laws as local governments seek to profit from the property boom at the expense of a Chinese Christians.

Built in 1886 by missionaries from the Church of England’s North China Mission society – an auxiliary of the SPG – the Tai-an mission church and school was confiscated from the Diocese of Shantung following the Communist seizure of power.  In the 1950’s the congregation was merged into the Three Self Patriotic Movement, but was closed during the Cultural Revolution and its buildings seized by the government.

In the wake of the Chinese government’s liberalizations of the early 1990’s towards Christianity, four buildings of the mission compound were designated historical landmarks and turned over to the TSPM.

ChinaAid reported that last year workmen began tearing down the outer wall of the compound.  However, on 16 Nov 2010 approximately 40 members of the congregation stated a sit in at the church, and halted demolition.

Last month demolition started again.  When elderly members of the church tried to stop the work, they were beaten by members of the work crew.  The physical attack on the members of the congregation has led to an appeal to the national government for help.

“We sincerely hope that the central government’s policy on religion can be carried out in reality, so as to win the trust of the people and bring a resolution to the Tai-an Church’s long-standing property dispute,” the appeal read.  “All the members of the Tai-an Church have full confidence in the God whom we believe and in his words.  Jesus said, ‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.’ …”

ChinaAid condemned the demolition saying it “demonstrates that it is not just house churches … that face government persecution.  Even the legitimate rights of government-approved churches that are part of the [TSPM] can be arbitrarily trampled.”

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