Wednesday, November 11, 2020 : By Nathan Skates
The Chinese government is attempting to separate religious citizens from their faith and instill devotion to the CCP.
Bitter Winter is a magazine that reports on religious liberty and human rights in China. The magazine reported that “more than 70 Protestant venues were shut down last year in Jiangsu Province’s prefecture-level cities of Lianyungang and Suqian.” The government then demolished or repurposed the buildings.
Church leaders claim that the Chinese government is trying to “eradicate” churches. Their fears are well-founded. The CCP calls its campaign against churches “Sinicization.” The Los Angeles Times wrote that Sinicization is “a euphemism for turning faith into a tool for indoctrination in Chinese Communist Party ideology. The official five-year plan, issued in 2018, calls for inserting ‘patriotic education’ and ‘socialist core values’ into churches, revising the Bible and using church sermons to enforce party leadership and reject foreign influences.”
Not even the Three-Self Church — which is controlled by the CCP and is the only “legal” place to worship in China — is safe from this new campaign. Bitter Winter reported that a shut-down Three-Self Church in Suqian city’s Shuyang county was turned into a memorial hall for heroes of the Chinese revolution. The cross was removed from the building and replaced with a sign that read, “God loves the world.”
A village official said, “The church will now be used to teach the young generation about China’s revolutionary spirit.”
One village official told Bitter Winter, “People of faith outnumber Communist Party members, and the Party is not winning people’s hearts. The government fears that this will bring instability. Churches are eradicated to ensure that there are more CCP members than believers.”
In April, a church was shut down for “organizing an illegal gathering” because it refused to join the Three-Self Church. The church building was converted into a “Civilization Practice Station for a New Era.”
Bitter Winter reported that the CCP considers these stations “as a major measure to promote Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, to instill it into people’s minds.” These stations aim to “ensure that the Party’s publicity and ideological work is solidified and strengthened at the grassroots level. They are also used to make people of faith forsake religions and follow the Party.”
The government of Fuzhou city’s Chenjie village released a video called, “Church Converted into Lecture Hall to Create Spiritual Home for Villagers.” The video promotes these stations. The video discusses how the largest unregistered Protestant church in the village had been “successfully turned” into one of these stations.
The video says, “After a month’s work, the church director proactively dissolved the congregation of this religious venue. Its members were later registered and transformed. More and more believers are now being transformed into practitioners.”
The video says villagers turn to religion because their cultural lives are monotonous and the government wants to ensure that people don’t blindly follow religion (the irony is painful.) The video also mentions a poor woman who went to the church for help, but her situation did not improve until the government stepped in and gave her an allowance, which gave her “courage and impetus to move on.”
The CCP is not only losing the battle for the hearts of the Chinese people, it is also afraid. It is trying to brainwash people into placing their faith in the Communist Party to stop the tide of people converting to Christ.
The Christian Post reported that the CCP has replaced crosses with the CCP flag and replaced images of Jesus Christ with images of President Xi. They also reported that the CCP has forced pastors to weave communist ideology into their sermons.
In China, many churches have met secretly, with no church building. If the government learns about an underground church, it will force the members to register and possibly join the state-controlled Three-Self Church. Registering makes Christians a target of persecution by the government.
No matter how many church buildings the CCP closes, demolishes, or repurposes, it will never be able to stop the movement of Christ in China. The church is not a building, but the body of Christ and removing His picture does not remove Him from His throne.