The CCP distorts religious teachings by forcing churches, temples, and mosques to preach according to the government-prescribed scripture.
by Bai Lin
On July 20, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Dandong, a prefecture-level city in the northeastern province of Liaoning, issued an order to organize a sermon competition on the “sinicization” of religion. The document, entitled Implementation Plan for the Preaching Competition on Sinicization of Christianity in 2020 demands preachers of Three-Self churches to take part, preparing sermons by “looking for elements in the Bible that are relevant to the core socialist values and traditional Chinese culture” in conformity with “the progress of the times.” The 12 core socialist values represent the “new interpretation of the Chinese socialism,” as defined at the 18th National Congress of the CCP in 2012.
A clergy member from the area told Bitter Winter that only those who write such sermons could pass the annual review to get a clergy certificate.
The document entitled Implementation Plan for the Preaching Competition on Sinicization of Christianity in 2020 was issued by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau of Dandong.
President Xi Jinping demanded in 2015 to “use the core socialist values to guide China’s religions and nourish them with Chinese culture, support interpretations of religious thoughts, regulations, and teachings according to the progress of the times.” The president promotes the values aiming to “strengthen Marxism’s guiding position in the ideological fields” to resist “Western ideological influence on the people.”
In September last year, every Three-Self church in Changshan county in Quzhou, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, received a publication from the local Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau titled The Core Socialist Values and the Bible, with a collection of parallels between the two. For example, one of the 12 values, the rule of law, is compared with the Bible’s verse “You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he has commanded you” (Deuteronomy 6:17, AKJV).
The Core Socialist Values and the Bible.
In early May last year, a Catholic church in Yangqu county of Taiyuan, the capital of the northern province of Shanxi, was ordered to hang propaganda boards with comparisons between the Bible and the core socialist values. The value of “patriotism” is likened to “If I do not remember you, let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:6, AKJV).
A preacher from Zhejiang’s Hangzhou city showed Bitter Winter a collection of what the government calls “excellent sermons,” written by preachers who “properly” incorporate the core socialist values. In one of them, “democracy” is defined by a Bible verse “Moreover you shall provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Exodus 18:21, AKJV). The sermon’s author claims that submission to the CCP rule is a “manifestation of democracy.”
Similar “excellent sermons” are collected, distributed, and preached on tours throughout China. Pressured by the government, more and more Three-Self Church clergy members are forced to indoctrinate believers with socialist ideology by using verses from the Bible. Some called this measure “putting poison into sermons.”
The collection of sermons using the Bible to interpret the core socialist values.
“By making such parallels, the CCP wants to tell believers that by observing the Party’s ideology, they follow the teachings of the Bible,” a Three-Self church director commented. “It is so devious. They are poisoning people of faith bit by bit, eroding their belief. By doing so, the CCP aims to justify its control over religion.”
A preacher from Hangzhou city also believes that mixing socialist values with the Bible is poisoning believers. “It’s as if the Party is slowly tying a knot around your neck, putting you to death gradually,” the preacher explained. “It tells us to love the country and religion, but in the end, it will eradicate religion and only allow us to love the country and be loyal to the Communist Party.”
Requirements to integrate the core socialist values into religious teachings are also being imposed in places of worship of other faiths. A Buddhist temple director gave Bitter Winter a document titled Relevant Requirements on Religious Work and Reference Standards for Distribution of Materials that demands to put the core socialist values above all religious texts displayed in places of worship.
A Buddhist master from Yantai city in the eastern province of Shandong told Bitter Winter that the core socialist values cannot be compared with Buddhist texts when talking about equality between all men. Still, posters with such messages are displayed in his temple.
Propaganda boards titled “View the Core Socialist Values in Perspective of the Quran” could be seen in a mosque in Shandong’s Linyi city.
“This is a religious disaster, more severe than during the Cultural Revolution,” a Catholic from Shanxi’s Taiyuan city lamented. “It is slowly destroying people.”