China policy expert Gordon Chang says the nation's leaders are simultaneously indoctrinating students to favor the overbearing government and to reject all religions.
"In churches, they have taken down images of Jesus, and they've replaced them with images of Xi Jinping, and they're demanding the worship of Xi," he reports. "So really, what we have is Xi trying to become God."
As AFN has reported, Chinese churches must register with the state to operate legally, and those that do are forced to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.
"Especially starting in 2017, that year they ended instruction for children," Chang recalls. "Also, that was the year that China started to put Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic minorities into concentration camps and intensified the crackdown on Islam."
Beijing is most heavily reinforcing its religious restrictions on minors. The Christian Post reports that parents of kindergartners and middle schoolers must sign and submit to their children's schoolteachers a "pledge to not believe in religion," and government staff monitors to make sure no child enters places of worship.
As Xi Jinping demands absolute obedience from the Chinese people, Chang says China is moving back to a state of totalitarianism, and part of that is adherence to Marxism.
"If you're a Marxist, you can't be religious," the policy expert summarizes.
Meanwhile, to bypass these restrictions, many Christian churches secretly host Sunday School in member's homes, and homeschooling has gained popularity in recent years.
"Xi Jinping wants to eliminate all alternative sources of loyalty, and one of them is to God," Chang continues. "But what he's done is he's driven faith underground, and as he has driven it underground, it becomes much harder for the Communist Party to control it. Right now, the party is losing the struggle against the house churches."
That, he says, means the party is losing a struggle that it believes is existential.
"The Communist Party is jealous because it sees the fervor of Christians, and it realizes that that was the fervor that the Communist Party had a hundred years ago but doesn't have now," Chang notes.
He says Christians must defend their faith because Beijing is in the midst of a concerted campaign to attack faith not only in China, but around the world.