Chinese communist authorities forced a church in China's Henan Province to take down the first of the Ten Commandments given to Moses — "Thou shall have no other gods before me."
Bitter Winter Magazine reports that in November, 30 officials conducted an inspection of a government-approved Three-Self church in Henan's Luoning county.
Inside the church, they saw the Ten Commandments displayed on the wall, and declared that the first commandment must be removed. The church was forced to take down the Ten Commandments sign that day.
One of the officials explained that Chinese President Xi Jinping "opposes the statement," referring to the first commandment.
"Who dares not to cooperate? If anyone doesn't agree, they are fighting against the country," the official warned. "This is a national policy. You should have a clear understanding of the situation. Don't go against the government."
A church leader condemned the move: "This isn't appropriate. They're falsifying the words of God! It's resisting the Lord!" the unnamed Christian said.
In February 2018, China passed tighter restrictions regarding religious gatherings, teachings, and buildings to "preserve Chinese culture and party authority against ideological threats." Since then, churches in provinces across the country have experienced a severe crackdown on their activity.
Previously, Chinese Christians in Huangjinbu township revealed government officials forced them to take down displays of Jesus, crosses, and gospel passages from their homes. The move, they said, was as part of a government propaganda effort to "transform believers in religion into believers in the party."
Qi Yan, chairman of the people's congress in the township of Huangjinbu within Yugan county and the man in charge of the local poverty alleviation effort, told the South China Morning Post that villagers "should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help."
"Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses," Qi said. "But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi."
"Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior," he said. "After our cadres' work, they'll realize their mistakes and think: We should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help."
Despite this, the Christian population has grown steadily in recent years. There are now an estimated 100 million Christians in China, many of them worshipping in underground churches.