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China Trying to ‘Rewrite the Bible,’ Force Churches to Sing Communist Anthems

While the crackdown on Christianity in China is so far primarily affecting evangelical Protestant churches, the Chinese Orthodox Church is also in a difficult position, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government. Holy Orthodoxy has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. The Church grew slowly and steadily there, but was almost wiped out during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the 1980s, however, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. Today, however, it is vulnerable to the pressure detailed in this article, including the threat to introduce Confucian elements into the Bible and place images of Chinese Communist leaders onto crosses. The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests that the Chinese government not only grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, but also give full religious freedom to all Chinese Christians.

“China Trying to ‘Rewrite the Bible,’ Force Churches to Sing Communist Anthems,” by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, September 28, 2018:

WASHINGTON — The Chinese government is supervising a five-year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism in which there will be a “rewrite” of the Bible, a prominent religious freedom activist has told Congress.

The Rev. Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church leader who immigrated to the United States in 1997 and founded the persecution watchdog organization China Aid, provided great detail during a House hearing Thursday about a plan enacted by leading state-sanctioned denominations in China to “Sincize” Christianity.

As China’s crackdown on religion has seen many house churches demolished and thousands of crosses removed from churches nationwide, Fu warned upfront that what is happening right now in China represents the highest degree of persecution for independent faith groups the country has seen in decades.

“Religious freedom in China has really reached to the worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao [Zedong] in the 1960s,” he told members of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.

At the center of this new level of persecution is China’s new regulation on religious affairs that was released last year but enacted on Feb. 1. According to Fu, the revision of the religious regulations are to actively guide religion to “adapt to socialist society.”

In a written testimony, Fu said that under the new regulations religious activity sites will “accept the guidance, supervision, and inspection of relevant departments of the local people’s government regarding the management of personnel, finances, assets, accounting, security, fire protection, protection of relics, health and disease prevent and so forth.”

Fu said that in order to comply with the new religious regulations, the Three Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Christian Council (China’s state-sanctioned Protestant bodies) have developed a five-year plan on “promoting the Sinicization of Christianity.”

He explained that the CCC and TSPM held a seminary last July for preliminary discussion about the five-year plan. He added that the plan outline was finalized at a meeting this March.

The plan proposes “cultivating and implementing the socialist core values.” The plan will be supervised by the national religious affairs bureau and “every province, autonomous region and municipality’s TSPM and CCC seminaries and churches will cooperate with it.”

One way in which they plan to Sinicize Christianity, Fu said, is by “retranslating” the Old Testament and providing new commentary to the New Testament to make socialist ideals and Chinese culture seem more divine.

“The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change ‘Christianity in China’ into ‘Chinese Christianity,'” he explained. [The plan] emphasized that ‘the heart and soul of Christianity’s Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology,’ and even proposing to ‘re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.'”

According to its latest outline, Fu said, a retranslation would be a summary of the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and new commentary for the New Testament.

“There are outlines that the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” Fu told The Christian Post after the hearing. “The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it.”

Fu added that the five-year plan advocates for “incorporating the Chinese elements into church worship services, hymns and songs, clergy attire, and the architectural style of church buildings.”

“This includes ‘editing and publishing worship songs with Chinese characteristics and promoting the Sinicization of worship music,’ using uniquely Chinese art forms, such as Chinese painting, calligraphy, inscription, and paper-cutting to express the Christian faith,'” he said. “[It’s also] encouraging churches to blend in style with Chinese architecture to local architectural style.”

Fu said that while over 4,000 to 6,000 crosses of state-sanctioned churches have been torn down, churches that have crucifixes on the inside must “put up pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi [Jinping] on both sides of the cross.”

“In the beginning of every church worship service, the choir of the church has to sing a few communist revolutionary songs praising the communist party before they can sing the worship songs,” he detailed.

There have been reports that state officials have gone door-to-door trying to get Christians to sign a statement renouncing their Christian faith.

“For first time since cultural revolution, the communist party is now implementing a policy to mandate the Chinese faithful citizens to sign a form to renounce their faith,” he said. “We have produced documentation showing [government officials] going door-to-door to force believers to sign a prepared form claiming that these believers were misled by evangelists into believing Christianity. Now, after a few weeks of self-examination and political studies, they have realized they made a mistake. This has not happened in the past.”

In some provinces, they have even banned children from going to church.

Fu said there is also a plan to shut down about two-thirds of the state-sanctioned churches in China in an effort to merge them. State officials have also urged 20,000 house churches to close and join state-sanctioned churches, according to Fu.

Although leaders at these state-sanctioned churches and denominations have already been approved by the government, Fu said clergy have been forced to go through another round of examination to ensure their loyalty is to party before God….

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