The network of “Civilization Practice Stations for a New Era” is expanded all over China to transform believers through education.
by Zhao Mingzhe
“I can’t be separated from my country for a moment,” people waving national flags are happily singing a revolutionary song in a propaganda video released by the government of Fuzhou city’s Chenjie village in the southeastern province of Jiangxi. Entitled “Church Converted into Lecture Hall to Create Spiritual Home for Villagers,” the video promotes “Civilization Practice Stations for a New Era”—a nationwide project launched by the CCP in July 2018.
The video further tells a story about the largest unregistered local Protestant church in the village that has been “successfully turned” into a civilization practice station.
“After a month’s work, the church director proactively dissolved the congregation of this religious venue. Its members were later registered and transformed,” the film’s narrator explains, adding that “more and more believers are now being transformed into practitioners” of such civilization stations.
The propaganda video about a “successful transformation of Christians through education:
The CCP regards the expansion of civilization practice stations in rural areas “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.” The stations, which are often set up in churches, temples, and ancestral halls taken over by the government, should 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 Chenjie village video propagates that people turn to religions because they live “a monotonous cultural life.” Therefore, the government is opening up civilization practice stations to organize various activities—from agricultural development to entertainment—to attract villagers and ensure that they “don’t follow religions blindly.”
The video also tells a story of a local poverty-stricken Christian who “turned to the church for help” in hard times, but “her life did not improve” until the local government allocated a monetary allowance that gave her “courage and impetus to move on.”
Civilization practice centers, along with a series of other new regulations and all-encompassing campaigns, have been launched to curb the rapid growth of religions, especially Christianity, in rural areas. The CCP regards religions as an enemy that takes away people’s hearts and minds, and it tries to fight them back through propaganda and a variety of other methods—from operas to theater performances. The authorities also want to spread the message that only the Communist Party can guide people to “a prosperous and happy life.”