Chinese Authorities Replace Cross With Image of President Xi Jinping, Order 84-Year-Old Christian to Pray to Communist Leader Instead of God

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2017. | REUTERS/Aly Song

Authorities in China replaced a cross in the home of an elderly Christian man with an image of Xi Jinping and ordered him to pray to the country’s president instead of God as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.

The 84-year-old man in Shanxi Province, China, was among a number of Christians in several provinces ordered to remove Christian imagery from their homes and replace them with pictures of Communist leaders, religious rights magazine Bitter Winter reported.

“The township [Chinese Communist] Party [CCP] secretary asked me to take down and throw away the cross and told me to pray to Xi Jinping from then on,” the unidentified Christian told Bitter Winter. “Xi Jinping is a man, not God. I feel saddened for the cross being taken down, but there is nothing I can do.”

Similar reports have emerged from at least five provinces over the last few months, with authorities urging believers — often low-income households reliant on government assistance — to replace crosses and images of Jesus in their homes with posters of Communist Party leaders, or lose welfare benefits.

In June, a village official in Lin County repeatedly ordered villagers through social media to remove all religious symbols from their homes, Bitter Winter reported.

“He stated that the cross symbolized heterodox teachings, which should be purged as per orders from higher authorities. If not, they will be held criminally accountable. The official stressed that impoverished households must replace the symbols with images of Xi Jinping,” the outlet said.

Officials in Lin County threatened to cancel poverty alleviation allowances if Christians refused to discard their faith-based books and other items. One Christian told Bitter Winter that every household was ordered to display portraits of Xi and that residents were to provide photos of themselves beside them.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett