The campaign to eliminate unauthorized Islamic and Christian symbols is in full force, religious insignia replaced with communist propaganda or patriotic slogans.
by Zhou Xiaolu
Many believers in China like to indicate their faith by displaying religious symbols on their doors. But in present-day China, any public exhibit of faith is not allowed, and the government removes all unauthorized religious symbols without providing any explanation. Campaigns to remove symbols of faith from the homes of believers become increasingly prevalent throughout China.
Arabic words replaced with slogans in Chinese on Hui residents’ homes
In May, plaques in Arabic on the lintels above doors of some Hui residents in Shangcha village in Long county under the jurisdiction of Baoji city in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, were replaced with phrases in Chinese, like “Harmony in the family leads to prosperity in all undertakings” and “Diligence and harmony make the family prosper.” In the neighboring Guguanjie village, over 30 Hui residents have encountered the same situation.
According to Hui residents in Long county, the Religious Affairs Bureau was in charge of this “rectification” campaign, purportedly “for the sake of national unity” and to “facilitate state management.”
One of the residents explained that the county government held meetings for two days before arranging for the lower-level officials to implement the measure. “This is a national policy,” the man added. “Anyone who tries to obstruct it will be punished as ‘gang criminals and evil forces.’ We, commoners, are no match for them.”
Symbols on the doors of Catholics painted over
Several villages in Fufeng county under the jurisdiction of Baoji city are inhabited by Catholic believers, many of whom have the JHS monogram of the name of Jesus written on their doors. Since April, the monogram is being painted over throughout the county, in Catholic-inhabited villages of Hongwei, Shangsong, and others.
Just after midnight one night in May, a Catholic residing in one of the villages was awakened by the barking of his dog. Using a flashlight to see what was happening, he noticed two strangers carrying buckets of paint hurriedly moving away from his house. When he got outside, he discovered that the JHS monogram on his door lintel had been smeared over with white paint. Many more believers in the vicinity had their monograms painted over as well that night.
Local officials had previously tried to paint over the JHS monograms during the day, but believers resisted. So, they decided to implement their plan in the dark of the night.
Communist Party slogans replace Christian couplets
Wangtian village, located in Fuzhou, the capital of the southeastern province of Jiangxi, is home to more than 80 households, most of whom are Catholics. They have been posting faith-related couplets on the doors of their homes for years. But in June, all these couplets were replaced with the ones expressing love for the Communist Party, like “Unwaveringly obey the Party; Don’t forget your initial intention and follow the Party,” “The pure working style of the Party benefits the people; Brilliant policies of the government build prosperity.” The horizontal scroll usually reads, “Red hearts turn toward the Party.”
The secretary of the local Social Security Bureau threatened to deprive the heads of religious households of their social security, minimum living subsidy, and other welfare aid if they don’t put up the Party-worshiping couplets. Another government official asserted that those who receive money from the Communist Party are not allowed to hold any other beliefs.
Elderly believers in the village feel very anxious, as the actions of the local authorities stirred their painful memories of the Cultural Revolution.