Christian persecution in China is nothing new, however recently released reports detail how the Communist Party is forcing Christians to replace statues and portraits of Jesus with Xi Jinping, the president of China, and preventing others from meeting for worship.
In 2016, the Communist Party, engaged in a Religious Winter to destroy Christianity from the face of China. Now in 2017, Chinese Christians are being forced out of church and made to serve at the feet of the country’s dictator.
According to a social media account in Jiangxi province’s Yugan county, villagers are being made to remove the 624 posters showing Christian religious sayings and images, in order to replace them with 453 images of Xi. The alarming act is a stark reminder of a China under Mao Zedong, whose picture was in every Chinese citizens’ home, in place of religious sayings and images.
Unbeknownst to some, China is home to nearly 100 million Christians all of which are subject to intense censorship, imprisonment, and persecution because of their faith. Officially the communist party is declared atheist, however, early on in the 21st century, China was more open and was beginning to utilize the country’s constitution, but in recent years, since 2013, China has closed its doors to outside influence, particularly Western influence.
Over the course of the last several years, according to Joshua Eisenman a professor at the University of Texas LBJ School in Austin, China is rampantly turning to National Socialism, and away from democracy. Eisenman, in an interview with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs stated;
Including Chinese people. And in Chinese, the word for National Socialism is guójiā shèhuì zhǔyì, but the word for statism is guójiā zhǔyì, and so people have been using guójiā zhǔyì, statism, saying National Socialism makes them bristle for a variety of reasons. You think of the Anti-Japanese War and a variety of different historical instances. In fact, they had a few years ago a parade, the anti-fascist parade with goose-stepping soldiers, which was ironic.
But what’s going on now is that people are not pushing back like they used to. They used to say, “Josh, you’re taking it too far with that.” But now people are saying, “Actually, you know what? That’s a pretty good description.” They’re not saying it’s bad—and part of what I’m doing here, and I want to be clear about it, is that I’m not being judgmental. I’m not saying National Socialism is inherently bad, although I personally am a liberal, so I don’t like it.
But some people, including people like Mussolini, argued—sometimes convincingly—that fascism was better than liberal democracy, that it was superior, that it could achieve things that liberal democracy simply couldn’t because liberal democracy would be mired in debate all the time, whereas the fascists could get things done. And the Chinese government most definitely gets things done. So there are many people out there who might not want to say China is National Socialist, but they are willing to say the Chinese system is better and gets things done.
—Carnegie Reference (See Works Cited)
As China turns further into a Socialist state, the crackdown on Christianity has grown exponentially. According to a report from Autumn Rain Blessing Church in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan province, their members are being prevented from attending Protestant Christian symposiums in Hong Kong.
The church’s pastor Wang Yi was detained on Sept. 26 on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” as he tried to travel to the Three-Fold Vision Christian conference in the former British colony.
He was detained and questioned for three hours before being allowed to return home. His wife attended in his place.
Now, Wang and Sichuan rights activist Ran Yunfei have been prevented from attending a Westminster Theological Seminary event in Hong Kong, sources told RFA on Friday.
Ran declined to comment when contacted by RFA, saying it was “not convenient,” a word often used by activists to denote police surveillance or monitoring of their conversations.
Church member Ding Shuqi was also incommunicado after posting to social media that police had found him after he checked in for a flight to Hong Kong to attend the same conference.
A fellow church member who asked to remain anonymous said on Friday that Ding had been detained as he went through immigration to board the plane, and later released a day later.
“They let him go, after a bit of a dispute,” the church member said. “But we prevailed, and the police thought we were right about it.”
“I think the authorities are a bit more sensitive right now because we have the 19th party congress at the moment, and they want to stop any kind of incident from happening while it’s happening,” the church member said.
“That’s why they are stopping us from leaving the country.”
—RFA Reference (see Works Cited)
Evidently, as previously stated, Christians in China were being picked up before and during the 19th party congress, however, directly after the conclusion of the congress, the party disseminated the order to replace Christian imagery with party leaders to continue the crackdown.
The Communist Party claims that the campaign is “involved in poverty alleviation” which details how the party is “melting the hard ice in the hearts of religious believers” and “helping turn them into believers in the party.”
“Help turn those who believe in religions into believing in the Party” pic.twitter.com/dKXnmX1KK8
— Yaqiu Wang (@Yaqiu) November 13, 2017
Chinese Christians are being told to turn from Jesus to Xi Jinping.
“Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illnesses,” Qi said. “But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that the people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi.”
Furthermore, Christians are being labeled as “ignorant” because of their faith; “Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior,” “After our cadres’ work, they’ll realize their mistakes and think: We should no longer rely on Jesus, but on the party for help.”
Similar tactics were used by Marxist-Lenninst states in the 20th century, and such is evidenced in Vladimir Lenin’s writing to Maxim Gorky; “There can be nothing more abominable than religion.”
However, after Lenin’s letter to Gorky, Lenin issued the following order: “To put up with ‘Nikola,’ [Christmas, the religious holiday] would be stupid—the entire Cheka must be on the alert to see to it that those who do not show up for work because of ‘Nikola’ are shot.” Under Lenin, this was not an isolated occurrence. Now, under Xi Jinping, Chinese Christians, are being subjected to similar tactics.
According to Victims of Communism, Memorial Foundation;
“Along with Trotsky, Lenin became involved in the creation of groups with names like the Society of the Godless, also known as the League of the Militant Godless, which was responsible for the dissemination of anti-religious propaganda in the USSR. 8 This institutionalized bigotry continued to thrive under Lenin’s disciples, most notably Stalin, and even under more benign leaders like Nikita Khrushchev.
This atheism was endemic to the communist experiment. Even those communists unable to secure political power—and thus lacking the ability to persecute believers—still did their best to persecute the teachings of organized religion and ridicule the idea of the existence of God. Even in America, it was no surprise to stroll by a city newsstand and catch bold front-page headlines like this in the Daily Worker, the communist organ published by CPUSA: “THERE IS NO GOD.” 9 Communists were proud of their atheism, and militant about it.”
— The War on Religion (See Works Cited)
China, on the other hand, is claiming to hold the answers to the removal of poverty through the abolition of religion. As a direct result, Chinese Christians are being forced to remove religious imagery from their homes in addition to the public sector;
“We only asked them to take down [religious] posters in the center of the home. They can still hang them in other rooms; we won’t interfere with that,” he said. “What we require is for them not to forget about the party’s kindness at the center of their living rooms. They still have the freedom to believe in religion, but in their minds, they should [also] trust our party.”
Communism is a virus, and once again, as China turns further towards national socialism, the glaring horrors of previous ‘leaders’ and regimes, all in the name of Socialism and Communism, are rearing their ugly heads again.
Pastor Wang Yi. “China in Nationwide Crackdown on Christian Churches During Party Congress.” RFA. . (2017): . .
Billy Hallowell. “Disturbing New Report From China Details Officials’ Latest Efforts to Stop ‘Ignorant’ Christians.” Faith Wire. . (2017): . .
Simon Denyer. “Jesus won’t save you — President Xi Jinping will, Chinese Christians told.” Washington Post. . (2017): . .
Devin Stewert. “.” Carnegie Council For Ethics in International Affairs. . (2017): . .
Paul Kengor. “The War on Religion.” Victims of Communism. . (NA): . .