The next wave of persecution against Chinese Christians has escalated as government officials are now forcing house churches to join the Three-Self Church which is run by the state.
Bitter Winter reports that authorities in Ninghai county raided a church because the director refused to join the official church. They damaged sections of the church and took down a cross from the building's roof.
Congregants were told that 27 additional church buildings throughout the area would have their crosses removed.
"When they demolished the cross, we, elderly believers, got on our knees to pray in tears," one parishioner explained. "We felt pain in our hearts every time they hit it. We can't stand up to them and prevent the forced demolition."
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After the state started pressuring churches into following the Communist party, they insisted that the national flag take the place of all crosses and images of President Xi Jinping and Chairman Mao to be hung up inside all churches.
Surveillance cameras were installed inside churches. Worship services can only be lead by government-approved pastors. Church finances were seized by the government and children under 18 are prohibited from entering the church.
"We won't agree to these requirements," the parishioner boldly stated.
Now, the Chinese Communist Party is ordering poor families of Henan, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Shandong, and other provinces who have been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic to renounce their faith or lose welfare benefits.
If they don't replace crosses, religious symbols, and images inside their homes with portraits of China's communist leaders, their financial assistance will be withheld.
"All households without exception must display Xi Jinping portraits and take photos of themselves next to them," a Christian from Lin county told Bitter Winter.
The faith community is perceived as a threat to Xi's regime. There are more Christians in China than Communist Party members. It's a reality that does not sit well with the party.
"The township Party secretary asked me to take down and throw away the cross and told me to pray to Xi Jinping from then on," another believer declared. "Xi Jinping is a man, not God. I feel saddened for the cross being taken down, but there is nothing I can do."
A religious calendar was removed from a Christian household and replaced with a poster bearing the words, "Be grateful to the Party, obey and follow the Party."
And a 75-year-old Catholic man from Jiangxi's Fuzhou city, who is a military veteran was told that "veterans must follow the Communist Party, and those enjoying the minimum living benefits are not allowed to believe in God."
Please continue to pray for the persecuted Christians throughout China.