Even as nonprofit groups in the U.S. seek to wipe Christianity from the face of public life, like-minded officials — with much more power — are hard at it in China.
Officials have reportedly ordered some Chinese Christians to destroy crosses on their churches and purge pictures of Jesus from their homes, as reported by MailOnline.
Authorities have forcibly destroyed religious symbols in churches in many provinces, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hebei and Zhejiang, according to the U.S.-based news site Radio Free Asia.
In Shanxi, officials have demanded that religious images be taken down and replaced with pictures of Communist leaders, even inside the homes of impoverished believers, reported the independent Bitter Winter.
China is currently facing a wave of criticism of its oppression of religions, especially Muslim minorities.
Officials in charge of religious affairs in Huainan in the eastern province of Anhui allegedly burst into the local Shiwan Christ Church to destroy its cross on July 18 and 19. The officials had required the church to take down its cross a week earlier, reported Radio Free Asia citing local sources. When they arrived at the venue to impose the order by force at the weekend, they were met with dozens of believers who had gathered to try to prevent them from bulldozing the holy sign, the article claimed.
Similar scenes were said to occur in Yongjia in Zhejiang Province on July 7.
The local government sent equipment and nearly 100 workers to destroy the crosses on Ao’di Christ Church and Yinchang Christ Church, according to US-based pressure group China Aid.
Local believers told the group that government workers forced their way into churches, smashed church property and beat up the Christians, including a woman in her 80s who tried to stop them.