The CCP is forcing clergy to interpret the Bible according to the core socialist values, transforming the Christian doctrine so that it exists in name only.
The Two Chinese Christian Councils of the eastern province of Shandong issued a document on May 21, obligating the Christian clergy in the jurisdiction to include socialist ideology into the content of their sermons. Entitled Implementation Plan for Conducting “Four Requirements” Activities at Religious Venues Across the Province, the document binds the clergy to guide believers in strengthening their ideological standing by integrating the core socialist values into collective religious activities and everyday lives, to ultimately instill them into religionists’ minds.
As part of the plan implementation, churches were forced to hang government-prepared propaganda posters with verses from the Bible illustrating the twelve principles of the core socialist values: prosperity, democracy, civility, harmony, freedom, equality, justice, the rule of law, patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship.
For example, “democracy,” according to the government, corresponds to Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
“Civility” is illustrated with James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
“Freedom” matches Galatians 5:13, “For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
“The rule of law” relates to Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
This case in Shandong is not an isolated occurrence of Chinese authorities associating Christian beliefs with socialist ideology. At the end of last year, news about Theological Interpretation of the Core Socialist Values, a publication by Wang Heping of the Office of Theology of the Catholic Archdiocese of Beijing, circulated online. The author reportedly attempts to find the links between the principles of Chinese Socialism and the Catholic doctrine, interpreting the core socialist values based on the perspective of the Catholic faith. To which some Christians remarked that the elevation of the core socialist values to the level of theology is tantamount to treating the Communist Party as God.
On April 17, government departments of Xinxiang city in the central province of Henan convened a meeting for pastors from churches in the area who were required to interweave, in varying degrees, the Party’s ideology and Chinese traditional culture into the content of sermons.
One of the pastors told Bitter Winter that this move is part of the policy to “sinicize” Christianity, the government aiming to make believers think that there is no contradiction between the traditional Chinese culture and the Bible, the two coexisting in harmony. He gave an example of a quote by Confucius (551-479 BC), the most influential Chinese philosopher and teacher, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” that is likened to “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise” from Luke 6:31. Also, Mao Zedong’s quote about the need to “serve the people” is treated as the commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
As reported by Bitter Winter, authorities in Henan’s Luoning county ordered a government-approved Protestant church to remove “You shall have no other gods before me” from the Ten Commandments, leaving only nine.
The CCP is following the path of the Nazi Germany that released its version of de-Judaized version of the New Testament and, a year later, produced new Catechism that contained twelve revised Commandments, instead of ten, including, “Respect your Führer and master.”
In March, the south-central province of Hunan issued an Outline of Hunan’s Five-Year Work Plan to Promote the “Sinicization” of Christianity. The document demands to “Deeply excavate content in the Bible that is compatible with the core socialist values and join forces in compiling easy-to-understand reading materials to be given to the clergy members and lay believers from grassroots-level churches, promote them widely within Christianity and expand their influence.”
The “sinicization” of Christianity has spawned a lot of ridiculous sermons. Lin Chaoqun, a pastor from a Three-Self church in the southeastern province of Fujian, interpreted the biblical story of Jesus feeding five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fish, his disciples picking up twelve basketfuls of leftover broken pieces of food afterward, as a code of conduct for caring about the environment. The weather was warm at the time, the pastor explained, if they hadn’t picked up the fragments of food, the heat from the sun would have caused the food to spoil, thereby polluting the environment. Pastor Lin used the story to explain the word “civility” in the core socialist values.
“Dismantling crosses and putting up national flags are the practices seen on the surface. In contrast, incorporating the core socialist values into the Bible is the most insidious trick that easily disturbs believers’ hearts. This is a distortion of the Christian faith. It is the work of the devil,” said a Three-Self preacher. “The situation is becoming increasingly dire; the government is increasing pressure step by step. In the end, they want to eliminate religious belief completely.”
The CCP is also accelerating so-called “red” training of clergy. On March 18, the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of Wuhan city in the central province of Hubei commenced a week-long indoctrination training for 44 clergy members from churches that belong to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The courses included topics such as “Spirit of the 19th National Congress,” “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” “Core Socialist Values,” “I Ching and Philosophy,” and alike.