Chinese officials used dynamite and heavy machinery to destroy one of the country's largest evangelical churches this week, The New York Times reported.
Over 50,000 Christians worshiped at the Golden Lampstand Church in Shanxi Province, and it was the second church to be demolished by the Chinese government in the last few weeks.
Destroying christian churches and removing crosses and steeples is part of a larger campaign by President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government, who consider Christianity a threat to the Communist Party.
State newspaper the Global Times reported the demolition of the church was part of "a city-wide campaign to remove illegal buildings."
This is not the first time Chinese authorities have set their sights on the church. In 2009, Bibles were confiscated by police and several congregation leaders were imprisoned.
“The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights,” the founder of ChinaAid, a group in the U.S. that monitors religious freedom in China, Bob Fu told The New York Times.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) responded on Twitter, "All should be free to practice their religion without fear of persecution from the government."
.@StateDept re-designated #China as a CPC for “severe violations of #religiousfreedom”—further justified by the demolition of a church by Chinese authorities. All should be free to practice their religion without fear of persecution from the government. https://t.co/YUM1bXqPgm— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) January 11, 2018
There are over 60 million Christians living in China.