In a move to curtail the religious freedom of Christians in their country, Chinese officials are destroying religious symbols, including the cross, placed in the churches. The authorities have also asked Christians to replace the images of Jesus in their homes with those of Communist leaders.

Radio Free Asia has reported that officials have forcefully destroyed religious symbols in churches in various provinces including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hebei and Zhejiang. The move comes days after reports highlighted increased curbs on the country's Muslim minority.

china church
china Church
Pictures released by China Aid show a crane taking down a cross on top of a church (left) and officials standing in front of a church (right) in Yongjia, China.

Churches Vandalized, Believers Beaten

In the incident which took place in Huainan located in the eastern province of Anhui Officials, officials in charge of religious affairs forcefully entered the local Shiwan Christ Church last week to dismantle the cross.

They had cautioned the locals of removing the cross a week ago. When they arrived at the venue to implement the order, they were met with dozens of believers who had gathered to try to prevent them from bulldozing the holy sign, RFA reported. Earlier, the officials had removed the cross from the church located in Yongjia in Zhejiang Province.

China Aid, a group founded by American-Chinese pastor Bob Fu, reported that the local government had dispatched a crane and nearly 100 workers to demolish the crosses on Ao'di Christ Church and Yinchang Christ Church. Apart from vandalizing the church property and religious symbols, the workers also beat up the crowd of believers trying to stop them. The foundation also shared images of heavy machine lifting a cross off a church and government workers standing in front of another.

Christians Told to Remove Images of Jesus From Their Homes

Not done with destroying the churches, the officials are also forcing the Christians to remove the images of Jesus from their homes and replace them with communist leaders of the country including Chairman Mao and President Xi Jinping. Bitter Winter reported that officials of Shanxi region had ordered the removal of crosses, religious symbols and images from the homes of Christian believers.

The outlet further reported that the officials were targeting poverty-stricken residents who received social welfare payments.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has carried out a massive crackdown on all religious institutions to implement President Xi Jinping's orders that all religions must 'Sinicise' to ensure they are loyal to the party, reported Daily Mail.