Like the United States, The People’s Republic of China has freedom of religion. It says so in the U S Constitution and in the PRC Regulations on Religious Affairs, so it must be true? Right?
I mean – just look at the first amendment for the U. S. –
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Surely all those laws we have that restrict and / or control what religions can say / do / believe can’t possibly go against this amendment. Can they?
In the same way, Article 2 of the Regulations on Religious Affairs for China says –
Citizens have freedom of religious belief.
That must be equally as true as the one in the U S, right?
Actually – they are pretty much equally true. One difference is that in the U S, we pass separate laws chipping away at the freedom of religion. In China, the Regulations of Religious Affairs document itself chips away at the freedom of religion so proudly declared in article 2.
So – where am I going with this?
I read an article in Christianity Today about Christian churches in China. Even if you don’t live in China, I have to believe this is important for you. As the article says –
What goes on in China matters to the Church worldwide; soon, it will be the country with the largest Christian population and, in time, it might have the world’s largest missionary force.
That’s a conclusion I’ve read before. However, the scary part about what the article says has to do with what I mentioned at the beginning – regulations and laws.
The well-known saying, “What you have heard probably happened somewhere, sometime with someone,” is likely true, but be careful of taking one or two incidents and extrapolating that into a nation-wide government policy.
The author seems to be dismissing any anti-religion policies of the government. Our government here in the U S claims we have religious freedom – even as they continue to create more laws with the very intention of putting limits on it. In China, the government is working on an updated version of their Regulations on Religious Affairs. Currently, they use a version from 2005. I have been unable to find anything on a final update, but have a copy of the 2016 Draft Revision. Both versions include Article 2 – Citizens have freedom of religious belief. However, while the 2005 version has 48 articles to define just what religious freedom is – the 2016 draft version has 74 such articles.
While it may appear to some that China is not cracking down on churches at this time, it’s hard to imagine why they would be enacting a new version of the Regulations on Religious Affairs – one which includes 26 more articles than the current one – with no intention of using it.
This is important, because no matter what country you may live in, this is quite a blueprint for anyone that wants to put limits on religion.
Christianity is on the rise in China, as the article points out.
Well, sort of.
There are actually different “flavors” of Christianity in China. I can’t help but wonder how Jesus feels about the Chinese, or any, government deciding what Christians should learn, believe, and do.
To give just a hint of what the official Christian Church – the Three Self Church – is about, here is but a small sample of what goes on –
• The Communist Party decides how many people can be baptized per year.
• The Communist Party has the final decision on who can preach and what can be preached.
• Preaching about resurrection and the second coming of Jesus is forbidden.
• Preaching against religions that deny the deity of Jesus is forbidden.
• Preaching that atheist communist heroes went to hell is forbidden; good communists go to heaven
I dare say, Jesus would take issue with every one of these.
This is just the introduction. There will be more.
Next, will be a look at the Three Self Church, to give you an idea of what the “official” Christian Church is about in China. You’ll see, it’s nothing what like you would expect, if you’ve ever read a Bible. BTW – although it does happen, importing and printing Bible in China is prohibited. Therefore, it’s not done in the official Three Self Church.
After that, given the “official” definition of what a Christian Church is, we’ll look at each of the nine sections / 74 articles in the 2016 draft Religious Affairs Regulations – one section at a time.
Then, you can see what’s happening in your part of the world with a comparison of what’s happening in China.
To end this with a positive note, because there is good news even in the midst of a world like what I just laid out for you, I point you to something I just updated – an article titled The More You Tighten Your Grip, Satan. If you recognize it as being borrowed from Star Wars – you’re right. And, the conclusion for us is the same as it was for the rebels.