China is forcing Christians to replace posters of Jesus Christ with Communist leaders – and threatening to cancel the poverty alleviation benefits of those who refuse to comply.
That Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities are going from town to town, demanding that Christian icons be replaced with pictures of Chairman Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping.
Eighty-year-old Fei Zhongju from Xiayi county revealed what authorities told him after barging into his home in October 2018: “If we come back for inspection and find that you haven’t put up Chairman Mao’s portrait, we’ll cancel your poverty alleviation benefits.”
Fei’s wife revealed that her husband fell from the table and seriously injured himself as he attempted to get up and comply with the orders.
“What have we believers in the Lord done wrong,” the woman said. “The government is forcing us to tear up portraits of the Lord Jesus, and as a result, my husband was injured.”
Since early February 2018, nearly 1,400 Christian items have been destroyed all across the townships of Xiayi county, according to the outlet. Some counties have been left entirely without any religious symbols.
CCP forcing Christians to replace religious images with pictures of Communist leaders first emerged in 2017, with authorities targeting poor, rural communities.
That thousands of Christian residents in the rural areas of southeast China swapped images of Jesus with Xi on the walls of their houses after authorities threatened to remove the government’s poverty-relief measures.
The government’s program was initiated to “transform believers in religion into believers in the party,” a local report said.
“Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,” Qi Yan, chairman of the Congress in Huangjinbu – one of the townships in the county, was quoted as saying. “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.”
Meanwhile, Christians in the central Henan Province have also complained that the government is forcefully turning churches into theaters, game rooms, and other types of entertainment venues.
Several photos and clips showing how pulpits across the country once meant to preach the Gospel have since been covered with CCP propaganda or turned into activity or entertainment centers.
In light of these abuses, persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA ranked China number 27 on its World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith, marking a 16-spot jump from its previous ranking. Open Doors notes that within the last year, the country “saw increases in stricter state control of religious rights.”
Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools
An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.
In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.
‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’
The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.
While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.
The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.
He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.
Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.
But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.
John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.
‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.
They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.
They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.
This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.
He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.
The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’
He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.
China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service
The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.
An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.
The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”
“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”
While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.
The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.
In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.
Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.
In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.
The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.
“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”
“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”
UAE to rebuild Iraqi churches destroyed by Daesh
The United Arab Emirates, a Muslim-majority country, has pledged its support to help rebuild two historic churches in Mosul, Iraq. The efforts come in conjunction with UNESCO’s initiative, Revive the Spirit of Mosul.
Al-Tahira Syriac-Catholic Church and Al-Saa’a Church in Mosul were both destroyed by ISIS and are being rebuilt under a program to help postwar Iraq. Al-Tahira, an 800-year-old building, was damaged during mass raids in 2017 while Al-Saa’a was blown up by ISIS terrorists in 2016. The rebuild efforts will target to employee up to 1,000 locals and increase the city’s tourism economy.
UAE’s support of Iraqi Christians comes as part of their 2019 “Year of Tolerance” as proclaimed by the President, Sheikh Khalifa. The goal of the initiative is to place the UAE as a model of tolerance and increase communication between divided groups. The Abrahamic Family House, a religious facility that includes a mosque, church and synagogue, is another portion of UAE’s proposed religious tolerance efforts.
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