Addressing the elephant in the room

Chinese Christians face choice between poverty and Jesus

Chinese Christians

Thousands of Chinese Christians in the poor rural southeast China are trading their posters of Jesus for portraits of President Xi Jinping as part of a government relief program that seeks to “transform believers in religion into believers in the party.

Control after all is the goal of Communism and it’s little brother Socialism. The past two and a half years the Chinese Government has become increasingly nervous of the growth in Christianity in China. Citing breaches in building codes the Government has removed 1,700 crosses from churches in Zhejiang province.

The Chinese Government and the Governments of most Communist countries is atheist. Earlier this month Xi Jinping made a speech on religious policy stating “we must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremist. “ Xi demanded that religious groups submit to the ruling party  and that religions become Chinese.

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Chinese Christians in Jiangxi province are being forced to choose between poverty and their religious symbols. More than 11 percent of the province lives below the poverty level. A program is in place that will provide for these poor if they replace their religious symbols for Portraits of the Communist leader. 

In Yugan, the officially atheist party is competing for influence with Christianity, which has spread rapidly in both poor rural villages and prosperous cities since the end of the Cultural Revolution more than 40 years ago. By some estimates, Chinese Christians now outnumber the 90 million members of the party.

Qi Yan, chairman of the Huangjinbu people’s congress and the person in charge of the township’s poverty-relief drive, said the campaign had been running across the county since March. He said it focused on teaching Christian families how much the party had done to help eradicate poverty and how much concern Xi had shown for their well-being.

“Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,” Qi said. “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.”

“Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their saviour … After our cadres’ work, they’ll realise their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help,” Qi said.

Many believers did not do so voluntarily, Liu said.

“They all have their belief and, of course, they didn’t want to take them down. But there is no way out. If they don’t agree to do so, they won’t be given their quota from the poverty-relief fund,” he said.

But Qi dismissed claims that the funds were contingent on the religious posters being removed.

“We only asked them to take down [religious] posters in the centre of the home. They can still hang them in other rooms, we won’t interfere with that. What we require is for them not to forget about the party’s kindness at the centre of their living rooms.”

It was not an either-or situation, Qi said.

“They still have the freedom to believe in religion, but in their minds they should [also] trust our party.”

Chinese Christian should be an example to US millennials who according to a recent survey have a favorable opinion of former chairman Mao and other Communist leaders. With total Government control the tradeoff is total personal control.

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