Thousands of Chinese Christians in an impoverished county in rural southeast China have exchanged their posters of Jesus for portraits of President Xi Jinping as part of a local government poverty-relief initiatives that seeks to “transform believers in religion into believers in the party."
Christianity has spread like wildfire amongst the Chinese population, with estimates upwards of 100 million - more than the membership of the ruling communist party. Reports indicate that officials visited the poor Yugan’s Huangjinbu township at the weekend. They say that they “melted the hard ice in their hearts” and “transformed them from believing in
Subsequently, 600 villagers “voluntarily” got rid of the religious texts and paintings they had in their homes, and replaced them with 453 portraits of Xi.
“Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,” one official 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."
Many locals have reported that the government refuses to grant them a poverty-relief fund if they refuse to take down pictures of their Savior.