CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 December 2017

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Put your faith in the Party

BEIJING (AsiaNews): The county of Yugan in the southern province of Jiangxi, is quite poor and also has a significant Christian population, but a fresh government campaign has seen cadres visiting the homes of Christian people and presenting families with large posters depicting the president, Xi Jinping, to replace religious pictures in the main rooms of their homes.
 
Dubbed replacing religious faith with party faith, the local government is telling people that if they do not do this, they may not benefit from its newly-introduced poverty-relief programme.
 
In a bit of a throwback to the personality cult that saw pictures of Mao Zedong in every conceivable corner and on every conceivable wall, reports on social media claim that the officials successfully melted the hard ice in Christian hearts and transformed them from believing in religion to believing in the Party.
 
An official report on the Internet that was taken down a couple of days after it was put up, said that more than 600 villagers voluntarily got rid of the religious symbols and paintings they had in their homes, and replaced them with 453 portraits of Xi.
 
A resident noted, “They all have their belief and, of course, they didn’t want to take them down. But there is no way out. If they don’t agree to do so, they won’t be given their quota from the poverty-relief fund.”
 
Qi Yan, the chairperson of the Huangjinbu People’s Congress and the person in charge of the township poverty-relief drive, denied the claim, saying that people were asked only to take down religious posters in the centre of their homes.
 
He noted that the campaign had been running across the county since March, focussing on teaching Christian families how much the Party has done to help eradicate poverty.
 
“They think God is their saviour,” Qi said, adding, “After our cadres’ work, they’ll realise their mistakes and think: we should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the Party.”
 
Located on the edge of Poyang Lake, the Christian population in Yugan makes up more than 11 per cent of the one million people who live below the country’s official poverty line.

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