by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A cross was recently removed from Zhongxin Church in Henan, Province, China, and replaced with a Chinese flag, as the Chinese government continues its campaign to reinvent Christianity.
Pastor Li Juncai and three members, Wao Raoyun, Bai Yun, and Ma Yanfang, were taken into custody on February 20th when law enforcement "forcibly destroyed the lock and opened the gate" to the church, according to a local witness.
A state-registered church until 2013, Zhongxin since withdrew its membership to the communist party's "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" (TSPM), which forbids member churches from preaching the cross or the resurrection.
According to Pastor Li’s son, his father was charged by police with “disrupting public service” when he requested the officials to explain their legal jurisdiction in entering the church and removing the cross.
Aside from 4,000 crosses removed from churches in Henan province, an additional 1,400 Christian items have been destroyed in Xiayi County, as the government focuses on replacing Christian religious iconography with communist party symbolism.
“The government is forcing us to tear up portraits of the Lord Jesus,” explained the wife of an elderly Xiayi County resident in October of last year after police forcibly entered her home and told her husband his social benefits would be taken away if he did not put up a portrait of Chinese communist founder Mao Zedong.
The Chinese government has repeatedly outlined its plan to “Sinicize” Christianity, or fit it to Chinese communist ideology, with President Xi Jinping citing the need for the state to “actively guide the adaptation of religions to socialist society” in an April 2016 speech.
China has risen 16 places in just one year on Open Doors U.S.A.’s recently published 2019 World Watch List for Christian persecution.