Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 12, 2018
Recently, Bitter Winter learned that since the new revised Regulations on Religious Affairs came into force in February 2018, village officials in Fenggang township, Yugan county in Jiangxi’s Shangrao city started to forcibly remove in-home pictures of the cross. They even replaced pictures of the cross and Jesus with portraits of Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong, compelling Christians to accept the substitution because they had received poverty alleviation aid.
On April 25, 2018, a secretary of a brigade Party branch and some officials from a village in Fenggang, together with another 4 men, arrived at the house of Christian Chen Si’en (pseudonym). One official said: “You’ve believed in Jesus for decades, you must remove the picture of the cross on your gate.” Seeing that Chen resolutely refused to do so, the secretary forcibly tore off the picture himself.
According to local residents, in February, an official surnamed Zhang, who was in charge of poverty alleviation work of a village in Fenggang, came to Christian Wu Hong (pseudonym) who received the poverty alleviation aid for one time last year and told her, “According to the state policy, if you have received the poverty alleviation aid, you must remove pictures of the cross at home.” Later, despite Wu’s disagreement, Zhang forcibly replaced the images with portraits of Mao and Xi and took a picture of the new portraits on the wall.
Not long after, another Christian in this village named Wei Ping (pseudonym) went through the same experience as Wu Hong. The village officials used the same excuse that, “If you have received the poverty alleviation aid, you must remove pictures of the cross at home.” Wei was asked to put the portraits of Mao and Xi on the wall as well.
It has been learned that since November 2017, after the campaigns against the crosses in Jiangxi, the local authorities have been using “poverty alleviation and other schemes to help the disadvantaged” as a pretext to convert Christians to Party loyalty, forcing them to replace pictures of the cross and the Lord Jesus with portraits of Xi and Mao at home. Now, this kind of event is still going on.
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).