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From: Daily Mail
China demolishes hundreds of churches and confiscates Bibles during a crackdown on Christianity
7 August 2018

  • Locals in Henan stated concerns of a move by the atheist ruling Community Party to control Christianity
  • Residents were asked to replace posters of the cross and Jesus Christ with portraits of President Xi Jinping
  • Experts say the government is waging the most severe systematic suppression of the religion since 1982
  • Chinese leaders have ‘always been suspicious of the political threat’ that Christianity poses to the regime

‘Chinese leaders have always been suspicious of the political challenge or threat that Christianity poses to the Communist regime,’ said Xi Lian, a scholar of Christianity in China at Duke University. ‘Under Xi, this fear of Western infiltration has intensified and gained a prominence that we haven’t seen for a long time.’

Officials once largely tolerated the unregistered Protestant house churches that sprang up independent of the official Christian Council, clamping down on some while allowing others to grow. But this year they have taken a tougher approach that relies partly on ‘thought reform’ – a phrase for political indoctrination.

Last November, Christian residents of a rural township in south-east Jiangxi province were persuaded to replace posters of the cross and Jesus Christ inside their homes with portraits of Xi, a local official said.

‘Through our thought reform, they’ve voluntarily done it,’ Qi Yan, a member of the township party committee, told the AP by phone. ‘The move is aimed at Christian families in poverty, and we educated them to believe in science and not in superstition, making them believe in the party.’  …

‘Xi is a closet Maoist – he is very anxious about thought control,’ said Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. ‘He definitely does not want people to be faithful members of the church, because then people would profess their allegiance to the church rather than to the party, or more exactly, to Xi himself.’

Various state and local officials declined repeated requests to comment. But in 2016, Xi explicitly warned against the perceived foreign threats tied to faith, telling a religion conference: ‘We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means.’

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