China Removes Crosses from Churches, Replaces Jesus with President
Massive crackdown against religion in China is now in full swing
A massive crackdown against religion in China is now in full swing as many crosses from Christian churches are removed and replaced with portraits of the country’s President Xi Jinping and former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong.
Haunting footage of burning crosses have surfaced on social media as the Communist state seeks to gain control over any remaining church operations in the country
Christian pastor Liang Zhang from Shangqiu city described how heavy-handed officials stormed into his church and ordered the removal of some religious items, including crosses.
“For example, the banner saying: 'For God, so love the world,' and the scriptures were torn down, and all things related to the Bible and faith had to be cleared out," Zhang said
The express reports: Mr. Liang said the crackdown is part of a Government drive to "Sinicise" religion by demanding loyalty to the officially atheist Communist Party and eliminating any objection to its jurisdiction over people's lives.
But he said the attack had intensified in current weeks with even state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement churches being targeted.
He said: “They have started to ask us to tear down things about Sunday School for kids.
"Many of the big official TSPM churches and the family churches were closed down.”
Mr. Liang said the Government was introducing "information officers," who report behavior that is anti-government or seen as a threat to social stability, in churches.
Chinese church fire
He said the only areas where the Bible could be talked freely were small church set-ups in houses, where 20-30 people could gather.
Under Chinese law, religious followers are only allowed to worship in meetings registered with authorities, but many millions belong to so-called underground or house churches that oppose government restraints.
Mr. Liang said dozens of churches had been shut down in his county and those remaining were beginning to "look like culture clubs" rather than religious buildings.
He said: ”We now have our cross in the middle of our presidents' portraits, which are President Xi and Chairman Mao's portraits."
Bob Fu of the US-based group China Aid said the closure of churches in central Henan region and a prominent house church in Beijing in recent weeks represents a “significant escalation” of the crackdown.
He said: “The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief.”
The latest tightening of command follows moves earlier this year to ban the online sale of Bibles across China.