The Chinese Communist Party is reportedly ordering Christians to replaced crosses and religious images in their homes with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or else lose their social welfare payments.
According to the Daily Wire: “The reports come from Bitter Winter, a publication that the U.S. Department of State has cited in official reports and describes as ‘an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China.'”
The organisation reported on Tuesday: “The participants were ordered to remove crosses, religious symboles and images from the homes of people of faith who receive social welfare payments and replace them with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping.
“The officials were instructed to annul the subsidies to those who protested the order.”
The move hasn’t come as a surprise to some. Last year a senior Chinese official who oversees state-sanctioned churches, vowed to purge Christianity in China of any Western ‘imprint’.
Xu Xiaohong, chairman of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), attacked the ‘Western influence’ on Christianity saying, “[We] must recognise that Chinese churches are surnamed ‘China’, not ‘the West.'”
“The actions by anti-China forces that attempt to affect our social stability or even subvert the regime of our country are doomed to fail,” Xu told delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
According to Xu, Christianity spread to China when Western powers were invading the country, and is, therefore, a “foreign religion.”
“Some believers lack national consciousness, and that’s why we have the saying: ‘One more Christian, on less Chinese,’” Xu said.
“No matter how much effort or time it takes, our resolution in upholding the Sinicisation of Protestantism will never change, and our determination to walk a path that is adapted to a socialist society will never waver.”
China’s “sinicization campaign” was introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2015 and seeks to bring religion under the official atheist party’s absolute control and into line with Chinese culture, The Christian Post reported.
“According to a five-year plan to sinicize Protestant churches released by the Chinese religious authorities, efforts to make the faith more ‘Chinese’ include a rewrite of the New Testament using Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings to champion socialist ideals.”
Over the past year, local governments have shut down hundreds of unofficial church gatherings that operate outside the government-approved network. Furthermore, authorities have reportedly removed crosses from buildings, forced churches to hang the Chinese flag, sing patriotic songs, and barred minors from attending services.
“Last year’s crackdown is the worst in three decades,” Bob Fu, the founder of ChinaAid, told The Guardian.
“Bibles, sales of which have always been controlled in China, are no longer available for purchase online, a loophole that had existed for years. In December, Christmas celebrations were banned in several schools and cities across China.”
In 2017, South China Morning Post reported that local governments urged impoverished believers to remove images of Jesus and crosses and replace them with portraits of President Xi if they wanted to benefit from poverty-relief efforts.
At the time, Qi Yan, chairman of the Huangjinbu people’s congress and the people in charge of the township’s poverty-relief drive claimed, relief funds were not contingent on the removal of religious imagery.
“We only asked them to take down [religious] posters in the centre of the home. They can still hang them in other rooms, we won’t interfere with that. What we require is for them not to forget about the party’s kindness at the centre of their living rooms.”
Fast forward to present-day China, and it’s now being reported that Christians have been cut off from welfare payments after refusing to sign a statement renouncing their faith.
Bitter Winter also reported a number of incidences of officials tearing down religious writings and imagery in multiple homes and replacing them with portraits of Mao Zedong.
Daily Wire reports: “The communist official reportedly told [one of the church memebers], ‘Impoverished religious households can’t receive money from the state for nothing — they must obey the Communist Party for the money they receive.”
There are at least 60 million Christians in China.