Amid the coronavirus outbreak, poor Christian villagers in China have been ordered to renounce their faith and replace displays of Jesus with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits.
Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reports that in April, officials with China’s Communist Party visited believers’ homes in Linfen, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi. While there, they ordered residents who receive social welfare payments from the government to replace crosses, religious symbols, and images in their homes with portraits of China’s communist leaders.
If Christians resisted the order, officials annulled their subsidies.
“All impoverished households in the town were told to display Mao Zedong images,” a local pastor told Bitter Winter. “The government is trying to eliminate our belief and wants to become God instead of Jesus.”
A member of a state-sponsored Three-Self church in one of the villages recounted how local officials tore down all religious images and a calendar with an image of Jesus in his home and posted a portrait of Mao Zedong instead.
“Impoverished religious households can’t receive money from the state for nothing — they must obey the Communist Party for the money they receive,” the believer quoted an official as stating.
In May, an official in the eastern province of Shandong stormed into the home of a local Christian. While inside the Christian’s home, the official posted portraits of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping and reportedly said, “These are the greatest gods. If you want to worship somebody, they are the ones.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett