Impoverished Christians living in China who are receiving aid from the state have been ordered to renounce their faith or have their welfare benefits revoked, according to reports from Bitter Winter, a non-profit organization dedicated to religious and human rights in China.
During a government meeting in the city of Linfen near the northern province of Shanxi, officials from all villages under the city's jurisdiction were instructed to remove crosses, religious symbols, and images from the homes of Christians who receive welfare payments and replace them with images of Chairman Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping.
For those Christians who refused to comply, the officials were told to withdraw their welfare benefits.
A member of a Three-Self Church located in one of the villages said that officials destroyed all religious symbols pertaining to Christianity within his home and posted a picture of Mao.
"Impoverished religious households can't receive money from the state for nothing — they must obey the Communist Party for the money they receive," the believer recalled the official's scolding.
The policy is also being implemented in other parts of the country.
- The government of Xinyu city withdrew a disabled Christian's minimum living subsidy and a monthly disability allowance of around $14.
- A church member in her 80s from Jiangxi's Poyang county had her monthly subsidy of $28 removed for saying "Thank God" when her check arrived.
- An official from a village administered by a city in the eastern province of Shandong invaded a home and posted portraits of Mao and Xi saying, "These are the greatest gods. If you want to worship somebody, they are the ones."
- A Christian from Weihui city who refused to sign a statement renouncing her Christian faith had her allowance canceled. She depended on state money to support her two sons after her husband died.