Chinese Authorities Demolish Rising Church, Beat Parishioners and Arrest 40 of Them; Witness Likens Scene to WWII Invasion

It was like a scene from the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

(PHOTO: CHINA AID)Christians worship in the rubble of their demolished church in China's central Henan province.

That was the impression left on the mind of a church member who witnessed the recent police destruction of their church, which was still undergoing construction in China's central Henan province, and the torture and arrest of its parishioners that followed.

According to the unnamed witness, some 300 police officers and local government officials arrived on May 5 and began demolishing the Shuangmiao Christian Church under construction in Shangqiu, Henan, China Aid reported. The church was leveled to the ground, witnesses said.

During the demolition, officials beat dozens of parishioners, pushing them to the ground and twisting their hands before dragging and placing under arrest some 40 of them, including Shuangmiao Christian Church pastor Zhang Di and the church's vice director, Lü Yuexia, according to China Aid.

Of the 40 Christians arrested, eight are still reportedly in police custody.

The police also searched the belongings of church members and construction workers. They confiscated their mobile phones and other personal property including laptops, jewelry and even money. They also damaged the workers' closets and smashed offering boxes, the witnesses said.

Communist Party officials reportedly ordered the church's demolition after calling it an "illegal structure."

The officials also said the demolition was punishment for the church officials' refusal to pay the yearly 4,000 yuan (equivalent to $588) "road usage fee," an arbitrary fee imposed by villagers who allegedly envy the church's wealth.

Last month, the police rounded up 31 members of the Zhongfu Wanmin Church, including an American family with children, in China's southern Guangdong province, CP earlier reported, citing China Aid as source.

When some of the parishioners tried to take pictures of the raid with their cell phones, the police immediately stopped them and confiscated not only their phones but their ID cards and bank cards as well.

The police also beat Li Peng, the church pastor, after he tried to take pictures of the raid. The pastor and 30 members of his church were then taken to the Guangdong police station.

Meanwhile, China Aid recently shared details of the abuses a Christian lawyer named Li Heping suffered in prison.

"There were times that I wanted to commit suicide. I survived because of my Christian faith, the courageous advocacy of my wife and the attention of the international community," Li said, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.