Amid the coronavirus outbreak, poor Christian villagers in China have been ordered to renounce their faith and replace displays of Jesus with portraits of Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping or risk losing their welfare benefits.
Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reports that in April, officials with China's Communist Party visited believers’ homes in Linfen, a prefecture-level city in the northern province of Shanxi. While there, they ordered residents who receive social welfare payments from the government to replace crosses, religious symbols, and images in their homes with portraits of China's communist leaders.
If Christians resisted the order, officials annulled their subsidies.
“All impoverished households in the town were told to display Mao Zedong images,” a local pastor told Bitter Winter. “The government is trying to eliminate our belief and wants to become God instead of Jesus.”