Poor Christians Forced to Replace Jesus' Images with Xi in China

Published 20 November 2017  |  
South China Morning Post
The government of Huangjinbu town in China claimed that the Christian believers chose to take down banners bearing the Christian cross and replace them with president Xi's portrait, but local Christians have disputed this.

Thousands of Christians in rural China have reportedly been asked to replace images of Jesus Christ with those of President Xi Jinping if they want to receive government benefits to alleviate poverty.

A large percent of Christians dwelling in the Yugan County in Jiangxi province have been told by local officials that Jesus Christ won't save them from poverty or cure their illnesses, but the Chinese Communist Party will. Christians were asked to remove the pictures of Christ, crosses and the gospel couplets that form the centerpieces of their homes, and put up portraits of Xi instead.

"Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses. But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi," South China Morning Post quoted Qi Yan, the chairman of the Huangjinbu people's congress saying.

Qi is also the person-in-charge of the township's poverty-relief drive.

"Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior. After our cadres' work, they'll realize their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help," he added.

More than 11 per cent of the county's one million residents live below the country's official poverty line, while nearly 10 per cent is Christian.

According to a social media account in Yugan county, villagers had "willingly" removed 624 posters showing Christian sayings and images, and replaced them with 453 portraits of Xi, Washington Post reported.

The practice depicts the personality cult surrounding late Communist China's first leader, Mao Zedong, whose portraits were in every home.

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