Communist gangs hired by authorities severely beat several Christians in Hebei province in China after they resisted the destruction of an officially registered church.
Local officials and land developers reportedly worked together to push state-run congregation Fuxing Church into leaving the building it is using for its meetings and to sign a land transfer deal. A church elder named Han said they were open to moving to another location, but the compensation offered to them was less than the value of the property, China Aid relays.
According to Han, the church bought the former school building in 2002 for 3 million Yuan ($362,319 at the time), but the Communist Party only offered them less than 2 million Yuan (currently $289,080) for it. Fuxing Church refused to sign the land deal because the property's current value should already be more than 15 million Yuan ($2.17 million).
Because of their refusal to agree to the deal, the land developers paid gang members to destroy Fuxing Church's circuit breaker. A local pastor, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said the church pastors asked for help but the gangsters beat up the Christians who responded to the incident.
"We are prepared to petition the provincial government. First of all, we are not violating any laws. Secondly, we are defending our legal rights," said Han, according to China Aid. "The believers are not afraid of any consequences, even death. Today [Jan. 2], the [Christian] brothers, sisters, and leaders from every church throughout the Langfang area came to support us, promising that they would accompany us even to Beijing. We have about six or seven thousand believers now."
China's ruling Communist Party continues in its efforts to suppress Christian practices in the country. Last month, a hotel in the province of Zhejiang scrapped two Christmas services that local churches planned to hold there after the government sent it a warning, Radio Free Asia reports.
The move to stop the Christmas services comes in the wake of a prolonged cross removal and demolition campaign by local authorities. Aside from that, the Zhejiang authorities have also banned unofficial "house churches" and any kind of religious activity in medical institutions.