Currently on exhibit in China’s capital is a curious display
of large placards describing the “evil deeds” of “heterodox religious cults.”
The exhibit was organized and sponsored by the Beijing
Resistance Against Heterodox Religions, and features descriptions of
cults” throughout the world, including quotes by cult leaders. What is
most disturbing about this display is that the images of these cults and
are largely depicted as what at first appears to be Catholic, even
though Catholicism is not mentioned on any of the placards.
On “Placard 20,”
the title, which states, “Stirring the People Into Rebellion,” is accompanied
by cartoon images of Wang Yongmin, the cult leader, who is wearing a red
skullcap, pectoral cross, and a red bishop’s cape, though Yongmin is not Catholic.
Placard 15 depicts a cult identified in the title as “The only ‘Holy Spirit New
Testament [Protestant] Church’,” which was established in Hong Kong. This group
remains notorious in China for promoting Hong Kong and Taiwan independence from
the Mainland. Again, the leader is depicted wearing the clothes of a Catholic
bishop, despite the fact that the group identifies itself as “Protestant.”
Placard 19 describes a Chinese cult called the “Changshou Teaching,” led by a
man named Li Changshou. Again, this cult identifies itself as Jidujiao
(Protestant), but Li is depicted wearing a Roman collar, red skullcap, and a
bishop’s pectoral cross.
And in one odd cartoon, Li Changshou is featured next
to a crucifix, though the corpus is a small version of Li himself, round
glasses, red skullcap, and all. What makes these “heterodox” religions
problematic according to the message of the placards is that they are critical
of the current political authorities; it is concerning that this label is so
visually associated with Catholicism, even if this
attachment is implicit.
The exhibit is on display this month, September 2012, at
Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics.