Chinese communist authorities have ordered poor Christian villagers to remove Christian images from their homes and replace them with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued its program of “Sinicization” of religion by channeling religious fervor in the country toward the Party rather than God, the Christian Post reported this weekend.
In May, an official in the eastern province of Shandong raided the home of a local Christian and hung pictures of Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping on the wall in place of Christian images.
“These are the greatest gods. If you want to worship somebody, they are the ones,” the official told them.
This year, China’s “social credit system” was scheduled to become fully functional, assigning points to each individual based on how much the Communist Party approves of them and using their rating to control their behavior and access to certain benefits..
“There are fears that China’s new ‘social credit system’ – designed to reward good citizenship and punish bad – will be used to discriminate against Christians,” wrote the Catholic charity organization Aid to the Church in Need in a 2019 report.
The fears are tied to “cash rewards for those who inform on underground churches and other ‘unofficial’ places of worship,” indicating that the government might also reward the persecution of Christians with high “social credit” scores.
According to the religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter, the CCP is now using state welfare benefits as leverage to coerce people into worshiping the Party rather than Jesus.
In April, for instance, party officials visited the homes of Christians in Linfen, in the northern province of Shanxi, ordering those who receive welfare payments from the government to remove crosses, Christian symbols, and images in their homes and replace them with portraits of China’s communist leaders.