China’s clampdown on Christianity has continued to grow strongly and now, after destroying churches and banning religious gatherings, Chinese authorities want their communist leaders worshiped, not God.
With the coronavirus significantly affecting China’s economy and people’s livelihoods, primarily low-income households, many have been left dependent on social welfare support from the government. This support is coming with stringent conditions.
In April, the government of a town administered by Linfen, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi, called officials from all villages under its jurisdiction for a meeting. The participants were ordered to remove crosses, religious symbols 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 protest the order.
Officials were forcefully tearing down statutes and any photos or imagery that were Christian and replacing them with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping.
According to local reports, many families have been omitted from social welfare support for merely saying ‘Thank God’ instead are ordered to praise the communist party leadership.
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.”
In April, the government of Xinyu city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi canceled a disabled Christian’s minimum living subsidy and a monthly disability allowance of 100 RMB (about $14) because the believer continued to attend worship services despite government orders.
Similarly, in Jiangxi’s Poyang county, a Christian woman in her 80s was removed from the government’s aid list because she said “Thank God” after receiving her monthly 200 RMB (about $28) subsidy in mid-January.
“They expected me to praise the kindness of the Communist Party instead,” she said.