At the Communist Party Congress earlier this year, China’s leaders agreed on one thing: a new Mao had arisen in the person of President Xi Jinping. A strong leader who would once again guide the nation to greatness and would not tolerate any criticism.
It now appears that there is one more point of comparison between Xi and Mao. They both have a clear intolerance for religion.
This could be troublesome for President Jinping in a country where more and more people are turning to Christianity. According to official estimates, there are currently around 100 million Christians in China.
Just last week, local authorities in China's northern Shanxi province demolished a massive evangelical church using bulldozers and dynamite. The Golden Lampstand mega-church, which could hold some 50,000 people was one of many "underground churches" that Chinese authorities are targeting.
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According to the government-run Global Times newspaper, the Communist Party decided to destroy the Golden Lampstead, located in the city of Linfen, was demolished as part of a "citywide campaign to demolish illegal buildings."
Local officials claimed that the church in question lacked the “necessary permits” and "was secretly built." This seems a bit far-fetched for such a large building of course.
Mr Fenggang Yang is the Director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University as well as a leading expert on Christian religion in China. He claims that in the age of President Jinping, China is going after all churches that are not approved by the official associations.
"One of the main targets of the new regulations is unregistered churches, including both underground Catholic churches and Protestant 'house churches.'"
"The dynamiting of the church recently seems to be a prelude to the new wave of crackdowns under the new regulations."
"These Christians will be pressed to join the party-state sanctioned 'patriotic' associations. Their connections with Christians outside mainland China will be restricted and penalized if they continue."