Communist party officials have notified a diocese in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province that they will soon demolish the underground church of the Annunciation because of the failure of its pastor to join the state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association.
Local authorities said they were acting on orders from higher up in their move to destroy the Annunciation Church, which was inaugurated in 2012 and serves more than 150 Catholics in the local area, ucanews reported.
According to the online magazine “Bitter Winter,” last August police approached the parish priest of the Annunciation Church and demanded that he register the church with the government and join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, if he wished to save the church from demolition.
Both the priest and his parishioners indicated, however, that they would rather sacrifice the church than join the Patriotic Association.
According to one church member identified only as “John,” the motivation behind their stand was that “you can’t respect the (communist) party first then respect God, and the patriotic association can’t save the soul.”
New regulations from the office of religious affairs came into effect in the Jiangxi province on May 1 reflecting national policy directives such as the ‘Sinicization’ of Catholicism by adapting the faith to the tenets of Chinese Marxism.
Elsewhere in the country, officials in Henan province have come down on a local evangelical Christian church which they claim is using land illegally, ordering its destruction.
The county court reportedly issued a notice on April 25 ordering church member Zhang Yongcheng to demolish the Chinese Evangelical Church within 24 hours, after which the court said authorities would destroy the church themselves.
According to China Aid, a US-based human rights group, it is not known whether or not Zhang obeyed their order.
Zhang was also summoned to appear in court, China Aid reported.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome