In the Chinese government's continuing persecution of Christians, poor families are now being told to renounce their faith or lose welfare benefits.
Bitter Winter reports that the Chinese economy has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, especially low-income households struggling to make ends-meet.
Now government officials are ordering Christians who receive welfare payments to replace crosses, religious symbols and images inside their homes with portraits of China's communist leaders.
"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."
A church member in one of the villages recalled how authorities entered his home and destroyed a calendar with an image of Jesus on it, then replaced it with a portrait of Mao instead.
"Impoverished religious households can't receive money from the state for nothing—they must obey the Communist Party for the money they receive," he explained.
The enforcement of the new regulation started several months ago across China.
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