In continuation with its religious repression, Chinese authorities have reportedly ordered Christians to renounce their faith and replace the crosses, images of Jesus in churches with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing welfare benefits.
According to a report published in Daily Mail, a concerted attempt is being made by the Chinese officials to suppress the manifestation of religion in the country. In what appears to be state-sanctioned persecution against the Christian minorities, Chinese officials have recently demolished religious symbols by force in churches in multiple provinces, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hebei and Zhejiang.
Quoting independent outlet Bitter Winter, the report published in Daily Mail asserted that authorities of Shanxi province have ordered the Christian residents to take down religious images and replace them with the pictures of Communist leaders.
A local pastor from Linfen, a town in Shanxi province, was quoted by Bitter Winter saying that Chinese authorities have insidiously moved to curtail the religious liberties of the Christians in his town by asking them to remove images, posters that represent Christianity and supplant them with images of Mao Zedong and other Communist leaders.
Authorities in-charge of religious affairs in Huainan, another Chinese province, allegedly forcibly barged into the local Shiwan Christ Church and destroyed its cross on Saturday and Sunday. The officials had asked the church to remove its cross a week earlier, reported Radio Free Asia citing local sources.
The report claims that when the Chinese officials arrived at the location to dismantle the cross, they faced stiff resistance from dozens of believers, who had gathered to stop the authorities from knocking down the cross.
Similar kind of scenes emerged in Yongjia in Zhejiang Province on July 7 when the local government sent a crane, along with 100 workers to bulldoze the crosses on Ao’di Christ Church and Yinchang Christ Church, claimed US-based group China Aid. As per the followers, government workers forced their way into the churches, vandalised churches’ properties and thrashed Christians, including a woman in her 80s, who tried to oppose them.
The report also mentioned that poor Christians living in rural areas are being threatened by government officials to destroy religious symbols and display posters of communist leaders if they want to continue receiving welfare or benefits from the government.
China’s religious repression under Xi Jinping increased dramatically
This move is in line with the CCP’s massive crackdown against the religious institutions across China. With the advent of Xi Jinping as the Premier of the country, CCP’s measures to purge the nation of its religious moorings has only continued in earnest. Directives have been issued by the Chinese Communist Party to flatten churches and mosques, preventing Tibetan children from pursuing Buddhist religious studies and corralling more than a million members of Uyghur Muslim minorities in a bid to re-educate them in internment camps.
This clampdown is a part of the explicit set of instructions issued by Chinese President Xi Jinping, ordering that all religions must ‘Sinicise’ to ensure they are loyal to the communist party.
CCP passed an order to review and edit the translated version of all religious texts
In November 2019, the Communist government in China decreed its censors to review and edit all translated versions of classic religious texts to make sure that their messages jibe with the principles of Socialism. The country’s top officials ordained that no new content should go against the beliefs of the Communist Party.
The order was passed in a meeting held by the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which is in charge of the ethnic and religious issues in China. The Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Wang Yang, who oversaw the meeting said that religious authorities must abide by President Xi’s directives and expound the ideologies of different religions in conformity to ‘the core values of Socialism’ and ‘the requirements of the era’.