AP reports that government officials forcefully shut down an outdoor Christmas party organised by Christians in Xitan village (溪坦村) in Zhejiang province. Xitan bills itself as a “Christmas village”, and it comes under the jurisdiction of Ruian city which is home to many underground churches and manufactures some 500 million yuan in Christmas products each year.
Christians in Xintan [sic] village said Friday that the officials wrecked a mixing console, turned over an electric piano and pushed and punched worshippers, injuring five, Tuesday night. A local official said the believers hit first, sending a deputy village head to the hospital.
“There were a few hundred of us. And the village heads were there too, and they were even more violent,” said Wang Jingfeng, one of the Christians present. “This is like a dog biting a rat.”
Setting off the scuffle was an attempt by an unregistered local church to hold a Christmas gala on a stage set up in a village square.
The Xintan Village Church, in a video posted on YouTube, said the local government authorized the event. But a higher-level official in charge of religious affairs said the believers were asked a day earlier to cancel because regulations forbid worship outdoors and Buddhists in the community complained.
“We told them that any outdoors event of a religious nature is strictly banned from being organized, and that’s what it states in the government rule on religion,” said Zeng Jianhua, deputy director of religious affairs in Ruian city, which oversees Xintan.