Authorities in China replaced a cross in the home of a Christian man with an image of Xi Jinping and ordered him to pray to the country’s president instead of God. The 84-year-old man was among a number of Christians ordered to remove Christian imagery from their homes and replace them with pictures of Communist leaders, religious rights magazine Bitter Winter reported. “The township Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary asked me to throw away the cross and to pray to Xi Jinping from then on,” the unidentified Christian told Bitter Winter. “Xi Jinping is a man, not God. I feel saddened but there is nothing I can do.” Similar reports have emerged from at least five provinces over the last few months, with authorities urging believers to replace images of Jesus in their homes with posters of Communist Party leaders, or lose welfare benefits.
An official in Lin County ordered villagers through social media to remove all religious symbols from their homes. “He stated that the cross symbolized teachings which should be purged as per orders from higher authorities. If not, they will be held criminally accountable. The official stressed that households must replace the symbols with images of Xi Jinping,” the outlet said. Officials in Lin County threatened to cancel poverty alleviation allowances if Christians refused to discard their faith-based books and other items. One Christian said every household was ordered to display portraits of Xi and residents were to provide photos of themselves beside them. In the province of Jiangxi, officials tore down any Christian imagery in the homes of officially recognized Three-Self Church members. The officials said they were implementing state-issued orders.
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