Chinese paid to swap crucifixes for President’s portrait

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s portrait is replacing crucifixes and other religious images in parts of China.

A priest says removing the Christian images involved officials giving money to poor households in return for hanging Xi’s portrait.

Officials from China’s Yugan County in eastern Jiangxi province say Christians have “recognised their mistakes and decided not to entrust to Jesus but to the (Communist) Party”.

The officials also say they are “converting” Christians to party loyalty by alleviating poverty and other schemes to help the disadvantaged.

Nearly 10 percent of Yugan County’s one million people is said to be Christian.

A priest in northern China says he thinks Xi has become “another Mao” Zedong since the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October.

The priest thinks officials around the country will probably imitate the Jiangxi province’s actions.

Next February, new “Regulations on Religious Affairs” will be implemented.

Chinese Christians and observers believe this policy will closely follow Xi’s “Sinicization” model.

Sinicization is a process where non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture.

The director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong has pointed to the dangers of ‘Chairman Mao’-style personality cults.

During the Cultural Revolution, religious intolerance and Mao Zedong’s dogma prevailed.

Young Red Guards used to arrest and publicly humiliate anyone thought to be deviating from Mao’s teachings.

Although Chinese priests don’t think there will be a return to the Cultural Revolution conditions, they say they are afraid religious and social controls will intensify.

Videos urging children to spy on their families and other videos teaching children to report family members who could pose a threat to national security have been released.

An official notice said the videos were produced to match Xi’s strategy of incorporating national security objectives into the education system.


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