“Remove all images of Jesus Christ and put up those of the President.”
This is an order that the Chinese government is imposing on Christians in Jiangxi Province. The order includes demands that Christians remove crosses, gospel passages, and everything religious from their homes.
Telzilla.com says, “This isn’t a change of position as much as it is a change in tactics. Beijing has never allowed Christians much room to operate, usually insisting on taking control of churches in order to make sure that they mainly worship the state. The boost of Xi into idol status is new in terms of extremes, but the Party has been the only god that China’s leadership will allow for any significant purpose. Tolerating the worship of a supreme deity for anything other than private observance raises too many questions about the fallibility of those in power.”
Persecution of poor Christians
How does the government motivate Christians to get rid of their religious articles and transform them “into believers in the party”? The government only gives financial assistance to those who abide by the new rules.
According to a government official, “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses. But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi. Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior. After our cadres’ work, they’ll realize their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help.”
A conversion program
Catholic News Service reports that the government has begun a “conversion” program among poorer Christians to remove religious iconography from their homes in an attempt to install President Xi Jinping as a figure of worship. “Officials in China’s eastern Jiangxi province have replaced religious images displayed by Christian families with portraits of the country’s leader, Xi Jinping.”
Writing in the British journal Catholic Herald, Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith said, “We have the news that hotlines have been set up so children can denounce their own parents for anti-state activities. All of this should banish the temptation to wishful thinking and reminds us that China is Orwellian in its approach to religion, personal freedom and the cult of the state and the great leader.”