Christians crying out against the ongoing destruction of churches in China have compared the actions of Communist authorities to digging up the graves of their loved ones.
Two major churches, one in Jinan Diocese and one in Shandong province, have already been reduced to rubble this year amid the ongoing crackdown on the faith, with sources telling UCAnews on Friday that they expect Wangcun Catholic Church to be demolished soon as well.
The destruction of Liangwang Catholic Church earlier in July made international news with photos and videos posted online. One church member, who was not named, joined others in protesting at the ruins on July 23, where he condemned what officials were doing.
"Can you imagine the pain and sorrow when you watch your ancestral grave being dug and your ancestors' bones smashed into ash?" the man asked.
"Is it necessary for the government to do this? Church members just want to have a small area to build a small new church in the vicinity without affecting the development."
Authorities have claimed that the churches, including Shilihe Catholic Church from earlier this year, have been demolished because of district plans to build new buildings and infrastructure.
Church members have insisted that the churches were all registered with the religious administration, however, and that they had ownership over the houses of worship.
Watchdog groups, such as the International Christian Concern, have slammed China for the crackdown. ICC pointed out that there is a specific reason why officials used as many as 70 workers in the destruction of Liangwang Catholic Church last month.
"The disproportionate manpower used to demolish this church goes to show that China is fearful of Christians. The government knew that the demolition in the name of urban zoning would be met with resistance, so it ensured success by taking extreme measures," said ICC Regional Manager Gina Goh.
"Despite their best efforts to intimidate the Church with actions like this, the government cannot destroy the faith and resilience of Chinese Christians," she added.
Liangwang's priest complained to authorities after the destruction of the church, UCANews reported, but has not received a reply.
Another church member said: "The stools, altars and dedication boxes were all pressed into the ruins. The ruins later became a fire and all the items were burned out."
Other Christian holy sites that have been destroyed recently include the major Way of the Cross pilgrimage site in Henan province, where Communist officials also removed images of Jesus Christ.
"Excavators and pickup trucks were driven to the site at night because authorities feared there would be too many church members in the daytime," a source told UCANews about the destruction on June 5.
The pilgrimage, which leads to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, had stood for over 100 years, attracting thousands of followers every year from nearby provinces.