IN CHINA RELIGIOUS CONSUMPTION IS CONTROLLED
By Serwaa Ampaafo
Religion is problematic and it is only a traitor, the willfully ignorant or maybe a full blown illiterate that do not see it as such.
In fact all well-meaning countries gaining or have gained firmer socio-economic grounds have always in one way or the other heavily controlled the amount of religion consumed by the citizenry because authorities know and understand that a mind corrupted with religious philosophies which are unfounded thus conflicts reality automatically lead to a perverted society which is detrimental for growth or evolution in every area of life.
China the second largest economy in the world has therefore not relented in this respect. Briefly, lets examine
Here’s a little historical context.
Since 1949, China has been a Communist country. Mao Tse-tung ruled until his death in 1976. In the Communist worldview, all religion is superstition.
After Mao died, Deng Xiaoping (Chao-ping), a moderate Communist, became China’s leader. Deng was committed to modernization. Churches reopened and the constitution was changed to allow for freedom of religious expression.
And now Xi Jinping who has led a massive crackdown on all forms of religions especially Christianity which began to began to gain roots in the region
According to the official Chinese website, “In China, all religions have equal status and coexist in tranquility. Religious disputes are unknown in China.” The Chinese government will, it says,make ever-greater efforts to safeguard human rights and specifically to protect the freedom of religious belief.
A leader of China’s Religious Affairs Bureau has said that the government is determined to respect and protect freedom of religious belief until religion dies out naturally.
However, the problem is that religion is not dying out naturally.
Christian churches are legal, but only if they submit to the authority of the Communist Party. Pastors are on the government payroll. Theology takes a back seat to Communist ideology. God’s love is stressed but not His holiness.
Ethics are stressed but miracles, the resurrection, the Second Coming, and hell cannot be mentioned. No mid-week prayer or Bible study groups are allowed. No one may teach or baptize anyone under the age of 18, even their own children.
Most Christians and maybe all true Christians meet illegally in homes and secret places. Anytime a group gains strength, there is risk of a crackdown. House churches are growing and spreading at a rate that alarms Chinese leaders. Any organized group that is not under government control is a threat.
Christianity played a role in the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe, and Chinese communists don’t want a repeat.
Christian churches in China have been ordered to take down displays of the Ten Commandments and replace them with quotes by President Xi Jinping.
Leaders of state-sponsored Three-Self churches have been threatened with closure if they fail to comply, according to local reports.
Instead of core Christian values, the displays now preach Communist party ideology, such as: ‘Guard against the infiltration of Western ideology, and consciously resist the influence of extremist thought.’
Recently there was a crackdown on one of the fastest growing house church networks in China, the South China Church. Many Christians were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.
The head pastor of the South China Church was tried and sentenced to death on charges of “using an evil cult to damage a law-based society”.
Some members of his church finally admitted to immoral behavior after 36 hours of physical torture. Hours before the pastor’s scheduled execution last January, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell intervened and the pastor was granted a retrial.
A Hong Kong businessman was arrested in late 2000 for smuggling 33,000 Bibles into China. He was eligible for the death penalty. Only official Bibles are legal, and people must sign for them. No study Bibles or commentaries are allowed.
These are high profile cases. There is no way of knowing how many low profile Christians are currently imprisoned and subjected to torture, heavy fines, confiscation of their homes and property, and re-education in labor camps. In Chinese courts, guilty verdicts are a foregone conclusion. The trial is merely a formality.