CNA Staff, Jul 21, 2020 / 14:00 pm
Government authorities in Shanxi, China, are ordering people who receive government assistance to replace religious symbols in their homes, including pictures of Jesus, with pictures of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping. Refusal to comply results in the assistance being taken away.
The religious freedom magazine Bitter Winter reported last week that officials in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province, were told in April to inspect and remove religious symbols from the homes of those receiving "social welfare payments" and to replace them with communist leaders. Those who complained would have their payments "annulled."
The policy also applies to members of state-run churches. A member of the Three-Self Church, which is the Chinese Communist Party's official Protestant denomination, told Bitter Winter that images of Jesus and a religious calendar were taken down from his house and replaced with images of Chairman Mao.
Like much of the world, the Chinese economy has been hard-hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, meaning that more and more people are relying on government payments to stay financially afloat. At the same time, the government has overseen a renewed crackdown on places of worship.