As part of a push to “sinicize” religion, the Chinese Communist Party has embarked on a 10-year project to rewrite the Bible and other religious texts.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus famously confronts the accusers a woman caught committing adultery, saying “let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.”
The chastened accusers slink away and Jesus says to the woman, “‘Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she replied. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go away, and from this moment sin no more.'”
A beautiful story of forgiveness and mercy.
At the 19th Party Congress, Chairman Xi declared “We will… insist on the sinicization of Chinese religions, and provide active guidance for religion and socialism to coexist.”
Let me translate: Xi Jinping has no problem with the first commandment, just so long as he and the CCP are playing the role of God.
You might expect the Vatican, the leaders of the largest Christian congregation in the world, to be incensed and defiant. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
The PRC constitution states that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief,” but, of course, the CCP’s definition of “freedom” bears a much closer resemblance to what we’d call oppression.
The United Front Work Department manages religious affairs in China because religion is a tool to be coerced, co-opted and corrupted to advance party goals and, once harnessed, control people’s minds.
Only five faiths are officially recognized. Less-established faiths face even more intense persecution. The Falun Gong remains an unfamiliar spiritual practice to many outside China, but that does not make their suffering at the hands of the CCP any less real.
Tahir Hamut Izgil, a Uyghur poet, described in The Atlantic how the PRC government “had required all Uyghurs there to hand over any religious items they held … religious books, prayer rugs, prayer beads, articles of clothing. Some were unwilling to part with their Qurans, but with neighbors and even relatives betraying one another, those who kept them were quickly found out, detained, and harshly punished.”
China couples growing military might with expanding government control of people’s lives. FILE: A Chinese soldier salutes in front of a drone during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen Square in 1949, on October 1, 2019, in Beijing, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
One Uyghur woman related to Freedom House that “[n]ow the rule is, if I go to your house, read some Quran, pray together, and the government finds out, you go to jail.” Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, summed it up: “The [Chinese] government’s religious restrictions are now so stringent that it has effectively outlawed the practice of Islam.”
The CCP is also perpetrating a slow-motion cultural genocide across China’s west and north, targeting the Muslim and Buddhist faiths and the identities of the Tibetans, Uyghurs, Kyrgiz, southern Mongolians, and other ethno-religious minority groups.
Religion’s power is tantalizing to the CCP — what better demonstration of party supremacy than bringing global religions to heel?
In an interview with The Guardian, the pastor of one Chinese church stated, “In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned – the soul of man.” The pastor ended with an assessment that we must make come true: “[The PRC rulers] are doomed to lose.”