China is taking full advantage of the pandemic to wage war against the Church.
And they just issued a list of 42 “guidelines” churches must comply with if they want to reopen.
But it’s clear most of them have nothing to do with any virus.
For instance, church members must register online in advance, share personal details such as name and gender, and give the government their ID card information and phone number.
These rules will ensure that the oppressive government has all the information it needs to round up Christians and other religious minorities they deem “dangerous” to national security and safety.
But even more shocking, the Bureau demands churches include pro-government “education” in any sermons, teaching, or curriculum.
Churches must now teach “patriotic education” and study China’s religious policies during services or risk permanent closure.
According to Bitter Winter, a religious liberty and human rights magazine, this is pure indoctrination and it’s all part of the “Sinicization” movement in communist China.
Sinicization is intended to bring all religious institutions under the guidance—and tyranny—of President Xi.
Religious leaders have been commanded to “express their love for the country and the Community Party” by writing essays and teaching the core values of socialism and communism.
“Clergy members should highlight the core socialist values in their sermons, use important festivals, major events, and other occasions to interpret and publicize the core socialist values,” the government wrote in one recent document.
This concentrated indoctrination is meant to insert socialist and communist values “into believers’ minds, their Sunday worship services, and daily lives.”
It’s an ugly reality, and one that Chinese believers have struggled with for some time already.
“When you enter [sinicized] churches, you have to accept the government’s indoctrination of Chinese socialist values,” said one house church preacher from Jinan city.
“Crosses are replaced with national flags, and you are told to love the Communist Party.”
“The situation is dire; it is the greatest challenge for Christians. We should hold on to the pure Christian belief.”
But it’s getting more and more difficult to retain Christian theology and belief amid the rising tide of governmental oversight and oppression.
Believers are disheartened by the constant barrage of overtly political content in their worship services and wonder if it’s even worth coming back to church.
“The government said that churches much preach about national affairs if they want to reopen,” said one Christian from Sanmenxia city.
“With Xi Jinping’s speeches as the main content, it’s better for churches not to reopen.”
The Chinese government hopes to bring all state churches into agreement with the Communist Party over the next several years, aiming to form a group of “red clergy” who are unfailingly loyal to the communist regime.
If a church fails to meet the new guidelines and refuses to become “red,” it will not be allowed to reopen.
One such congregation has already shared their story.
The church, which is near Beijing, was not allowed to reopen because the Religious Affairs Bureau disapproved of the pastor’s sermons about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pastor did his best to rewrite the sermons, meeting all the appropriate requirements, but was again denied his request to reopen and told “the epidemic is severe in Beijing.”
At that point, it became clear that the government simply wanted to close the church and would find any reason to do it.
“The nearby swimming pool already reopened in May,” the pastor shared. “Why is it so difficult for the church to reopen?”
“None of the 11 places of worship in our area was approved for reopening,” agreed another leader.
“We were busy preparing to meet the requirement for reopening, but the government made things difficult for us in every respect.”
This is just one example of many to come as Chinese Christians stand up to the oppressive government.
Please pray for our Chinese brothers and sisters as they do their best to honor Christ. Pray for their wisdom and courage amid the propaganda and lies of the communist regime.