Chinese authorities have ordered a church to remove the First Commandment from a display on the grounds that it contradicts the policy of China's President Xi Jinping.
According to Bitter Winter, which reports on religious freedom in China, about 30 officials in Henan Province's Luoning country conducted an inspection at the church and wiped off the commandment from a display on the wall.
The commandment says: 'You shall have no other gods before me'.
The church belongs to the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement. However, when its pastor protested he was told, 'Xi Jinping opposes this statement. Who dares not to cooperate? If anyone doesn't agree, they are fighting against the country.' The official said: 'This is a national policy. You should have a clear understanding of the situation. Don't go against the government.'
The move reflects China's policy of 'sinicisation', which has seen religion coming under increased pressure to be subservient to the state in its teachings and practices. Christians have been harassed and arrested and churches have been closed. The Vatican has struck a controversial deal with the Chinese government allowing it a say in the choice of bishops, though the final choice on their appointment will be made in Rome; the agreement's defenders say it will help protect believers.
Muslims have also suffered under the regime's determination to increase state control over religion. Around 1 million Muslim Uighurs have been detained in 're-education camps' in an attempt to stamp out their unique culture. And according to the regime-friendly Global Times, China instigated a new plan on Saturday with representatives from China's eight Islamic associations where participants agreed to 'guide Islam to be compatible with socialism and implement measures to sinicize the religion'.
Hinting at an expansion of the programme to other religions, the article says: 'Governing religion is a common challenge faced by all modern countries. The main purpose of China's five-year plan to sinicize Islam is to seek governance that tallies with Chinese practice, and it is not only limited to Islam.'