Christians and evangelical churches around the globe are feeling the oppression of officials whose desire is to bring the church under government control. In some places, it is by the passage of new, restrictive new laws. In others, it is the closure of church buildings by rebel, anti-Christian entities – or by elected officials.
On September 27th, the Rev. Bob Fu, founder of China Aid, explained to a U.S. Congress House Foreign Affairs subcommittee about a five-year plan that is being implemented to Sinicize Christianity in China.
Mainstream media has lightly touched on a string of church closures this year in China, including the demolition of some. Multiple cases have been reported of more than 5,000 crosses having been summarily removed from evangelical church buildings.
The plan to Sinicize Christianity was finalized in March 2018 aims to close 20,000 house churches and force the members to join state-sanctioned churches. It directs churches to cultivate and implement socialist core values within their buildings and in their worship. The plan includes a retranslation of the Old Testament and to incorporate “socialist ideal and Chinese culture” into the entire Bible and commentaries on the New Testament.
Fu told the committee that the plan includes “incorporating Chinese elements into church worship services, hymns, songs, clergy attires, and the architectural style of church buildings.”
In order to be retained by the state-sanctioned church, evangelical clergy must make a public pledge that their first loyalty is to the Communist party before the Lord and His church.
A draft rule regarding digital religious content is now being considered that will “regulate” religious information on the internet. The rule will restrict the dissemination of “religious doctrines, knowledge, culture, and activities spread through instant messages and online broadcasting in the form of texts, photos, audio, and video material.”
While the Catholic church has entered into an agreement with the Chinese government in which the latter must approve and appoint senior clergy, evangelical leaders have joined together to sign a positional statement that includes the following:
“[W]e believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church.
“We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any ‘ban’ or ‘fine’ imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the Gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses — even the loss of our freedom and our lives.”
Mr. Fu cited the Vatican’s deal with the Chinese government understanding their desire to ensure legitimacy, he warned that the arrangement “is nothing but a betrayal of . . . the millions of suffering persecuted Christians in China.”
We urge our readers to pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in China.
Pray that all involved will heed the second half of our Lord’s statement as a divine warning to render unto God the things that are God’s.
- The Christian Post, China Trying to ‘Rewrite the Bible,’ Force Churches to Sing Communist Anthems
- China Aid, Vatican reaches deal with China, jeopardizing underground churches
- China Christian Daily, China Issues Draft Rule to Regulate Online Religious Messaging Services