Christian believers in a Chinese county have reportedly been forced to remove pictures of Jesus, gospels and other religious decorations from their homes.
Instead, portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping are being hung up in public areas and local families.
The planned act has apparently been branded as an anti-poverty campaign launched by the Communist leaders, in Jiangxi Province to help the residents improve their financial situation, according to various reports from China.
A pastor told Radio Free Asia that such poverty-relief activities were seen in Yugan county of Jiangxi Province, which has a large Christian community.
Christians in Huangjinbu town were told to remove pictures of Jesus Christ, Christian cross and other Christian items as the local government launched the campaign said to be aimed at tackling poverty issues.
The news was first reported on the town’s official Wechat account in a propaganda article. The article wrote that Christians in the area had replaced religious items with portraits of president Xi Jinping.
The post, which first appeared on November 11, has been removed by the Huangjinbu government from their account, called ‘Window of Huangjinbu’.
According to a screen shot, the article claimed that 624 religious items had been taken down and 453 portraits of Xi Jinping had been put up.
Pastor Huang said in an interview with Radio Free Asia that the poverty relief was a scam.
‘The officials told people not to believe in Jesus and told them to learn from president Xi and take Xi as a role model,’ he said.
Pastor Huang continued: ‘Xi mentioned to put more Chinese characteristics into Christianity and that’s no different in bringing up another cultural revolution.’
American-Chinese pastor Liu Yi, told the reporter that the communist party was afraid of any organised activity from the West, and western religion such as Christianity was one of the threats.
Pastor Liu said: ‘I noticed that some of the Christianity groups in China are spreading songs with communism elements among their believers.’
Yugan county in Jiangxi Province has a population of one million people.
Around one-tenth of the population, some 100,000 people, follow Christianity, according to Fuyin Times.
The news came after authorities in China ordered children to be banned from joining religious groups.
The ban, reported in August, also prohibited children from attending religious sermons and other activities in several provinces across the country.
Amnesty International said the ban reflected the tightening control of religion, in particular Islam and Christianity, under President Xi Jinping.
In an earlier interview, William Nee, a researcher from Amnesty International, said: ‘China is in the midst of a religious revival and the current government seems concerned that religion could be a means through which foreign values may “penetrate” into China and ultimately affect political stability.’