Chinese authorities have forced a church in Jiangxi province to paint over its name and replace it with a communist slogan, “Follow the Party, Obey the Party, and Be Grateful to the Party,” amid increasing attempts by officials to “sinicise” (make Chinese) Christianity.
The True and Original Source of the Universe church in Ji’an city was also ordered in late September to remove a painting of a Biblical figure from a prominent position and replace it with a portrait of China’s President Xi Jinping, surrounded with communist party slogans.
Days later, officials locked the doors and windows and confiscated the keys to the church, which is registered under the state-sanctioned Patriotic Association, preventing the congregation from gaining access for worship.
Elsewhere in Jiangxi province, elderly members of an unofficial house church, operating outside of the Patriotic Association, were told by the authorities in Poyang county that their retirement pensions would be stopped if they continued to gather for worship. Officials also removed crosses and religious banners and replaced them with portraits of President Xi and Chairman Mao Zedong.
The sharp increase in repressive measures by the authorities has raised questions over the future of a secretive pact reportedly agreed between Beijing and leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. The agreement is thought to give both the Church and the Chinese government a say in the appointment of new ministers.
Critics say that, since the deal was signed in September 2018, the government has appeared to accelerate its sinicisation campaign, by attempting to focus church teachings on Chinese patriotism and President Xi’s communist party. They also allege that church ministers are being imprisoned or prevented from participating in religious festivals.