Chinese authorities are telling Christians to abandon their “superstition” and forcing them to venerate President Xi Jinping, it has emerged.
Describing the “most severe systematic suppression of Christianity” in years, the Associated Press (AP) said a form of “thought reform” is now being promoted in China.
However, believers say they will not give up, stating, “we are willing to attach any price to the Christian faith”.
China has witnessed a “religious revival” in recent decades. But a Chinese politics expert in Hong Kong said President Xi wants people to pay ultimate respect to him – not God.
“He definitely does not want people to be faithful members of the church, because then people would profess their allegiance to the church rather than to the party, or more exactly, to Xi himself.”
In April, the national religious affairs department published an article which claimed only officially-sanctioned places of worship “can obtain God’s love”.
According to the AP report:
– In recent months hundreds of ‘house churches’ have been shut down;
– Christians in a rural area were told to take posters of the cross down and replace them with President Xi’s image;
– Young worshippers were held at a police station for more than 10 hours;
– Even one Government-approved church cancelled its activities for children following State orders;
– Other religions are also facing severe crackdowns on their freedoms.
…the church’s position has never changed, and we are willing to attach any price to the Christian faith.
On a local level, a member of a township government in the Jiangxi province claimed Christians “voluntarily” changed their actions to support the Communist Party.
Qi Yan said, “we educated them to believe in science and not in superstition, making them believe in the party”.
But, despite the intense persecution, unregistered churches have maintained their position.
In a joint declaration last month, 34 churches said: “In the face of suffering, we support each other and stand side-by-side”.
“Since the 1950s, the predecessors of the Chinese house church have offered a fragrant offering to God for their faith.
“Now, although in a new environment, the church’s position has never changed, and we are willing to attach any price to the Christian faith.”