Official church in Liangwang (Shandong) torn down because of new zoning (photos and video)

At least 70 policemen and workers tore down the chapel that had been registered in 2006. Altars, benches and liturgical furnishings are destroyed. The church had no place in city’s new zoning plan.

Jinan (AsiaNews) – At least 70 police officers and workers yesterday tore down the church in Liangwang, on the outskirts of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, ostensibly because of urban zoning guidelines. The church, which belonged to the official community, had been registered since 2006.

The authorities have adopted a new urban plan that includes the development of a new neighbourhood with a railway station. This requires the removal of the church, even though it did not interfere with the plan.

The congregation and the local Religious Affairs Office had been talking with the authorities to find a place to relocate the church when, without warning, the church was destroyed and with it, altars, benches, chairs, and sacred furnishings.  Three church caretakers were also roughed up.

According to some accounts (and a video) made public by the members of the congregation, 40 people entered the chapel yesterday at 11.30 am, and drove out three women caretakers – Gao Rongli, Zhang Siling and Li Xiangmei – after seizing and destroying their cell phones. Another 30 people arrived later with bulldozers and pickaxes to tear down the building.

According to locals, another church in Wangcun, Huashan, not far from the capital, is slated for demolition as part of the city’s urban renewal plan.