Christians in China have once again felt the force of the communist hammer and sickle. Authorities shuttered a Christian Church in Beijing because it was operating without a license.
Around seventy government personnel stormed into Zion Church, which was housed on the third floor of a nondescript office building.
The authorities stormed the building on a Sunday afternoon, during a service said Church pastor Jin Mingri.
“They chased everyone out and sealed off the place, even tearing down our signage on the wall,” Jin told the AFP on Monday.
“All our things have been confiscated, and we have not been allowed to re-enter the building.”
Local authorities familiar with the matter claimed that the church was unregistered, and as a result, the churchgoers have been banned from the property.
Zion, the church that was disbanded, housed roughly 1,500 people in its weekly services.
According to officials on the ground, journalists were also barred from entering the building. Furthermore, on Monday, at least a dozen marked police vehicles and scores of officers both in uniform and plain clothes guarded the building.
China’s top leaders have recently called for the “Sinicization” of religious practice — bringing it in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture — sparking concern among rights groups.
In China, there are roughly twenty million Christians according to official estimates that stem from the government. However, the actual number of Christians in China is closer to forty or sixty million according to unofficial estimates.