As China’s state-run Protestant Church is being turned into a tool to spread CCP’s ideology, its congregations are forced to study Marxist texts and accept atheism.
by Tang Zhe
On August 18, 2019, members of a Three-Self church in Yugan county under the jurisdiction of Shangrao city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi received a special “gift” from the government – a book entitled “A Marxist Text for Peasants to Alleviate Poverty in Yugan County.” A village official explained that the state issued and distributed the books for Three-Self Church congregations to read. Believers were told to take photos of themselves holding the book.
The book contains texts entitled “The World Is Not Created by God,” “The Development of Society Is Not Dominated by God,” “The Origin of Faith: Primitive Totems, Witchcraft, and Superstition,” “Follow the Leadership of the Chinese Communist Party,” and alike. Going through the book, one will read lines requiring people to praise, obey, and follow the Communist Party, asking believers to keep in mind that they should be grateful to the communist government for their “happy life.”
“This book is filled with claims contradicting the Bible,” a congregation member commented. “The government misinterprets it, but we can’t. We must keep on the right track to follow Jesus Christ.” The woman is planning to leave the Three-Self church for a house church, regardless that being a member of one means heavier persecutions by the state.
The church has been suffering harassment at the hands of the state since the beginning of last year. In February, local officials forcibly removed the church’s cross and replaced it with a national flag. No religious symbols can be seen outside the church.
Places of worship throughout China are being gradually “sinicized” since the so-called “four requirements” campaign was launched in June 2018, requiring all state-approved places of worship to raise the national flag, promote the Constitution, laws, and regulations, as well as the core socialist values and China’s traditional culture. Subsequently, the Christian doctrine is being tampered, and the Ten Commandments are being replaced with President Xi Jinping’s quotes and other government propaganda.
The plan to enforce the “four requirements” in a county in the eastern province of Shandong, issued by its United Front Work Department (UFWD) last year, demands to convert religious venues in prominent locations into places “for studying and promoting CCP’s political guidelines, national laws and regulations, the core socialist values, and Chinese traditional culture.” According to the document, they should become important venues to “lead religious people in carrying out government decisions and plans.”
In late August, the UFWD in Jinxiang county under the jurisdiction of Shandong’s Jining city ordered all local Three-Self churches to pledge to the “promotion mission to proactively respond to the Party and government’s call to enter a new era and build the Chinese dream in one accord, propagate the new laws and regulations on religion, and the core socialist values.” As a result, the churches have been rectified beyond recognition, turned into bases promoting CCP’s ideology.
Video: Slogans “Chinese Spirit,” “Chinese Dream,” and “Zhejiang Province’s Regulations on Religious Affairs,” have been displayed in Mashan Church.
In October, local government employees installed an electronic screen with the words “Long live the Motherland” on the outer wall of the Qiqiutian Church on Damaiyu Street in Zhejiang’s Yuhuan city. CCP propaganda slogans were also displayed. A congregation member told Bitter Winter that the government had threatened to tear down the church if believers refused to have the screen installed.
A slogan “Love the country, love the church,” representing the “freedom of religion” as propagated by the CCP, used to hang on the outside wall of the Qifengwan Church in Luonan county under the jurisdiction of Shangluo city in the northwestern province of Shaanxi. In late September, the words “love the church” were removed – as if signaling that the CCP has stopped pretending that religious liberty exists in China. Not even on paper; or a screen.
“The church is no longer a place of worship for us. It has become a government institution,” a local believer told Bitter Winter. “The CCP invades religious venues with texts promoting atheism and slogans propagating communism. It wants all religions to obey the Party’s leadership unquestionably.”