China orders 10 Commandments replaced with Xi’s quotes

Latest move to take Christianity out of society

September 21, 2019

There have a number of times around the United States in recent years that the 10 Commandments have been ordered to be taken down.

Like in the judicial building in the state of Alabama. And sometimes in schools.

Wouldn’t want those children reading something like “Thou shalt not steal.” Who knows, they might remember it and follow it.

Actually, under the law in most cases, the biblical injunctions are considered part of the history of the nation and can be posted as long as there are other historical documents or sayings posted with them.

Now, however, another government has ordered the 10 Commandments taken down.

According to a report from the worldwide Christian ministry to persecuted church members, Barnabas Aid, China’s authorities have said they have to come down.

And they’ll be replaced with quotations from President Xi.

The report said the move already is taking effect for churches in China’s central province of Henan.

“Every state-registered ‘three-self’ church and meeting venue in one county of Luoyang, a prefecture-level city, received an order to remove the ten biblical commandments from display as part of the authorities’ on-going campaign to ‘sinicise’ (make Chinese) Christianity,” the report said.

“Some churches that refused to obey have been shut down and other congregations have been told their members will be ‘blacklisted,’ meaning the travel, education and employment options of Christians will be restricted by the authorities,” the report continued.

The ministry, which is at work in more than 60 nations around the globe, mostly where Christianity is marginalized or persecuted, said a pastor from a state-registered church told the Bitter Winter publication the replacement is a copy of excerpts from Xi Jinping’s speeches.

The churches also have faced orders to replace their crosses with the Chinese flag and the installation of surveillance cameras to spy on members.

China’s efforts to exorcise “God” from society haven’t stopped with actions against churches, although in one extreme case “authorities ordered a registered church in Dongcun village, Henan province to erase the First Commandment, ‘You shall have no other gods before me,’ from the Ten Commandments on display in front of the pulpit, saying it was ‘national policy.'”

The country also has ordered the words “Bible, “God” and “Christ” removed from classic novels such as Robinson Crusoe.

 

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Now ‘God’ gets yanked from children’s classics

‘Bible’ suffering same fate

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

“Robinson Crusoe,” “The Little Match Girl” and other classic children’s stories are being edited in China to exclude references to God and the Bible.

According to Barnabas Fund, a global Christian ministry that focuses on the persecuted church, it’s part of a move to eliminate references to the Christian faith nationwide.

“The popular stories are among four works by foreign writers to feature in a new Chinese school textbook for fifth grade pupils, aged around 11, that offers students an ‘understanding of other cultures,’ according to the Ministry of Education,” Barnabas Fund said.

Daniel Defoe’s 1718 classic “Robinson Crusoe” notes that the castaway searched “among the wreckage of his ship to rescue three Bibles.”

The Chinese version says Crusoe saved “a few books.”

Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson said in his 1845 short story “The Little Match Girl” that “when a star falls, a soul goes to be with God.”

Now that person “leaves this world.”

Anton Chekhov’s story “Vanka” receives similar treatment, with a section about a prayer in church eliminated and every mention of the word Christ erased.

Last year, the communist regime controlling China cracked down on the sales of Bibles in stores and online.

And single-word online searches for “Bible” have dropped to zero.

The moves followed the government’s “White Paper” on religion, which introduced new policies “to reinterpret Christianity according to secular socialist views.”

“The ‘five-year plan’ outlines measures to enforce the selective interpretation of Scripture in such a way as to affirm and promote ‘the core values of socialism’ within all Christian faith communities and forms of worship,” Barnabas said.

The nation’s laws allow religious organizations to produce publications such as the Bible but not for “public distribution.”

“The communist government recognizes only state-registered Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, officially admitting to the existence of around 22 million Christians, although there may be as many as 100 million Christians when figures for ‘underground’ churches are included,” Barnabas said.

The report said that by 2030, there could be more than 160 million Christians in China.

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‘God’s Double Agent’ Talks About The Explosion Of Christianity During Increased Chinese Persecution

“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.”

‘God’s Double Agent’ Talks About The Explosion Of Christianity During Increased Chinese Persecution

July 18, 2019

Although China is under the rule of the atheist Chinese Community Party, it has seen a rapid growth of its Christian population, at an impressive rate of 10 percent annually for the past four decades. It is predicted that China will have more Christians than the United States by 2030.

However, under Chinese President Xi Jinping, the persecution of Christians and other religious believers has also intensified. That’s the sobering message Pastor Bob Fu, founder of China Aid, delivered at last weekend’s Western Conservative Summit, the largest conservative gathering in the west region. I had the opportunity to interview Fu at the summit.

Before he became a pastor, Fu told me, his life was already full of God’s miracles. During China’s Great Famine (1959-1962), a disaster caused by Chairman Mao Zedong’s ruinous agricultural and industrial policies, there was very little food in the village where Fu’s family lived. When Fu wasn’t born yet, his young mom took his two older siblings, carrying one on her back and holding the hands of the other one, and walked to a nearby city to beg for food.

Under the strict food rationing, people in the city were starving too. Yet there were always kind people willing to share a bowl of soup or a warm steam bun with this hunger-stricken young family. An estimated 20-30 million Chinese people perished due to starvation as a result of the famine, but Fu’s mom and his two older siblings miraculously survived.

Fu was born in Shandong province on the eastern coast of China. In 1989, he led a group of college students from Liaocheng University in Shandong to participate in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Three days before the Chinese government sent troops and tanks to the Square, Fu had to take his sick girlfriend Heidi (who later became his wife) back to Shandong. Had they stayed in Beijing, they might not have survived the June 4 massacre.

Back at school, Fu and his friends were investigated by local public security officials. Fortunately, none of them were thrown into jail. But they had to write confessions and self-criticism every day, not being able to resume their classes. Some of his friends broke down under this enormous pressure and started lying about their activities. Fu felt a great sense of betrayal. He was angry, depressed, resentful, and even suicidal.

When Fu Discovered Christianity

It was at this time that an American English teacher gave him a biography of Xi Shengmo, a 19th-century Chinese Christian. The book was a God-sent gift. This verse in the book, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (Corinthians 5:17) struck Fu especially.

He had hoped to help build a democratic China through the pro-democracy movement. But now he realized that he shouldn’t put his trust in mankind. He was also aware that he couldn’t build anything new when he was so angry and resentful. Before he sought any rebirth for China, he must seek his own rebirth in Christ and put his faith in God.

Fu became a Christian. He was no longer angry and resentful. Instead, he was full of peace and joy, even when he had to write another false, forced confession. But his new cheerfulness caused suspicion. Not long after, the Communist Party secretary of the school invited Fu for a “conversation.” Instead of his normal harsh criticism, the party secretary, not aware of Fu’s spiritual rebirth, was gentle this time and kept asking Fu whether he was alright.

Later, Fu found out that the party secretary thought Fu might have gone crazy after the constant interrogation and confession. Not wanting to have to deal with an insane college student, the party secretary decided to go easy on Fu.

God’s blessing kept opening new doors for Fu. He was able to attend one of China’s top universities for a master’s degree, thus avoiding the post-Tiananmen persecution. Upon graduation, he got a job teaching English at Central Party School in Beijing. With such a safe government job as a cover, Fu actively participated in the house-church movement.

By day, he taught ABCs to a group of atheists who had no idea of Fu’s pro-democracy activism and his religious beliefs. At night, he led sermons and preached the gospel in various house churches in Beijing, the heart of Communist China. This double agent type of life later gave him the title to his biography, “God’s Double Agent.”

The Chinese Government Caught On

Eventually, the Chinese government discovered what Fu was up to. He and his wife were thrown into jail for a few months for “illegal evangelizing.” Both lost their jobs. Not long after, Fu’s wife Heidi became pregnant. The couple were concerned that Fu’s political activity and multiple arrests meant Fu couldn’t get the Chinese government’s permission to have this child nor citizenship for the child once born. With the assistance of friends and lots of personal audacity, Fu and his wife escaped to Hong Kong and later came to the United States as political refugees.

Fu founded China Aid in 2002, “an international non-profit Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China.” He believes that “by exposing the abuses, encouraging the abused, and spiritually and legally equipping the leaders to defend their faith and freedom, China Aid strives to promote religious freedom for all.”

I asked Pastor Fu how bad the persecution of Christians is in China. He told me that their situations has gotten much worse under China’s president for life, Xi Jinping. Fu showed pictures of churches in China being demolished. He talked about the Chinese government’s “Sinicization” of churches: in government-sanctioned churches in China, photos of Xi and Chairman Mao are hanging next to a cross. Before a church service, these congregations usually sing China’s national anthem and songs praising Xi. Churchgoers are told to be patriots and trust the Communist Party first. People who are younger than 18 are forbidden to attend church services.

What worries Fu the most is the persecution of Christians. He mentioned that Pastor John Cao, a permanent U.S. resident who has built a number of schools for ethnic minorities in some of China’s most impoverished regions, was arrested in China in 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Religious Persecution Tightens Its Grip

Right before Christmas last year, Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Wang Yi and more than 100 members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Southwest China. Wang was charged with “subverting state power,” a charge that can carry up to a 15-year sentence in prison. In a letter sent from the jail, Wang wrote that the “persecution against the Lord’s church and against all Chinese people who believe in Jesus Christ is the most wicked and the most horrendous evil of Chinese society. This is not only a sin against Christians. It is also a sin against all non-Christians.”

China Aid has been at the forefront of exposing these persecutions and rescuing persecuted Christians and human rights activists in China. China Aid’s most high-profile case involved helping the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng to escape from China to the United States. Fu translated Chen’s appeal to travel to the United States in a special congressional hearing. Fu told me that China Aid is actively helping a few Christians and their families to escape further persecution in China.

I asked him what Americans can or should do to help. He said, first, the U.S. government needs to talk more openly and forcefully about the Chinese government’s persecution of religious believers, including Christians and Muslims. Second, the U.S. government should incorporate support for religious freedom into its foreign policy. Third, he would like to see the U.S. government use the Global Magnitsky Act to sanction Chinese government officials who persecute religious believers.

My final question to him was why the number of Christians continues to grow despite the government’s relentless persecution. Fu credited it as one of God’s miracles. He also pointed out there is a faith vacuum in China: after the disastrous three decades under Chairman Mao, even the Communist Party doesn’t really believe in Communism anymore.

The wealthier Chinese people get, the more they seek to understand life and faith. The government’s persecution has unintended consequences. When family, friends, and neighbors witness how peaceful, joyful, and loving Christians are in spite of their persecution, these nonbelievers are inspired to become Christians too.

Early Rain Covenant Church is a good example. After a government raid and the arrest of Pastor Wang and some of its members, the church has not disappeared. Remaining members continue to meet in small groups in restaurants and parks.

Before his arrest, Wang said in a sermon, “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. Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.” Fu agrees. He told me Christians in China are winning because God is on their side.

Helen Raleigh is a senior contributor to The Federalist. An immigrant from China, she is the owner of Red Meadow Advisors, LLC, and an immigration policy fellow at the Centennial Institute in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including “Confucius Never Said” and “The Broken Welcome Mat.” Follow Helen on Twitter @HRaleighspeaks, or check out her website: helenraleighspeaks.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/07/18/gods-double-agent-talks-explosion-christianity-increased-chinese-persecution/

US Continues to Condemn China’s ‘War on Faith’

A new State Department report notes some “good news,” like improving conditions in Uzbekistan, though the list of worst religious persecutors remains largely unchanged.
PAUL JACKSON JUNE 24, 2019

US Continues to Condemn China’s ‘War on Faith’

The US State Department is taking new steps to call out China as one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. Last week, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback rebuked the world’s most-populous country for ramping up what Brownback called its “war on faith.”

The latest Report on International Religious Freedom from the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF), released last Friday, details the status of religious liberty in every country in the world other than the United States, elaborating on abuses in 10 countries of particular concern (CPC)—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

This year’s report describes religious freedom issues in the country’s mainland, Tibet, Macau, and Hong Kong, where longsuffering Christians have played a central role in recent pro-democracy protests.

It also includes a special section dedicated to China’s malfeasance in Xinjiang, the autonomous northwestern province where between 800,000 and 2 million Uighur Muslims have been detainedand, according to the report, subjected to “forced disappearance, torture, physical abuse, and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity.”

“We’ve seen increasing Chinese government abuse of believers of nearly all faiths and from all parts of the mainland,” said Brownback, who cited concerns over organ harvesting among Chinese prisoners of conscience, interference in Tibetan Buddhist and cultural practices, and Christian persecution.

“They’ve increased their repression of Christians, shutting down churches and arresting adherents for their peaceful religious practices,” Brownback said. “And to this we say to China: Do not be mistaken, you will not win your war on faith. This will have consequences on your standing at home and around the world.”

The IRF report largely aligned with the recent report from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a separate, bipartisan commission that also assesses the world’s worst violators of religious liberty. USCIRF says its reports “are different from, and complementary to,” the IRF reports, with the commission saying its scope and bent toward policy recommendations is unique, and that “Whereas the State Department must account for overall bilateral relationships in its reporting, USCIRF has the independence and objectivity to call out violations wherever and whenever they may occur.”

USCIRF named 28 countries that stand out as religious freedom offenders, including 16 countries the commission identified as Tier 1 CPCs. All 10 of the IRF’s CPCs are included in USCIRF’s list of top-tier offenders, while USCIRF recommends adding the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam to the list of leading abusers of the freedom of religion and conscience.

Both reports echo the 2019 World Watch List rankings of countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, which bumped China from No. 43 of the globe’s worst Christian persecutors in 2018 to No. 27 this year.

Announcing the release of the IRF report, Pompeo described his personal faith as an Evangelical Presbyterian—“I was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon at my church”—and decried the governments and groups around the world that deny others the “unalienable right” to practice their beliefs.

He highlighted a few instances of “good news,” praising improvements in Uzbekistan, which for the first time in more than a decade is no longer designated by the State Department as a country of particular concern (CPC). The Uzbek government recently passed a religious freedom roadmap, freed 1,500 religious prisoners, and loosened travel restrictions on 16,000 who had been blacklisted for their religious affiliations.

Pakistan—where Asia Bibi, a Christian charged with blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and threatened with execution, was acquitted by the country’s supreme court—was cited as a win for religious freedom, along with Turkey, where pastor Andrew Brunson was released last year after a two-year imprisonment on terrorism and espionage charges.

But even in these “good news” countries, there is still a long way to go. In Pakistan, more than 40 currently face life sentences or execution for the same charge leveled against Bibi. Another Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy is currently imprisoned in Bibi’s old prison cell.

All three countries lauded by Pompeo were listed among the worst offenders in both the IRF and USCIRF reports. And according to the World Watch List, Pakistan is ranked No. 5 in the world for Christian persecution, Uzbekistan comes in at No. 17, and Turkey is No. 27.

And though Pompeo said Uzbekistan no longer qualifies as a CPC, it is a still a USCIRF Tier 1 offender and was named to the IRF’s Special Watch List, along with Comoros and Russia, for “governments that engaged in or tolerated severe violations but were deemed to not meet all the criteria of the CPC test.”

Pompeo and Brownback had more to say about countries the report exposes as featuring “a chilling array of abuses.” They specifically highlighted Iran, Eritrea, Russia, Nicaragua, and Burma for various abuses. China was again singled out as a leading actor in religious freedom violations.

“People are persecuted—handcuffed, thrown in jail, even killed—for their decision to believe, or not to believe,” Pompeo said. “For worshipping according to their conscience. For teaching their children about their faith. For speaking about their beliefs in public. For gathering in private, as so many of us have done, to study the Bible, the Torah, or the Qu’ran.”

To better assess and respond to religious oppression, Pompeo announced that the Office of International Religious Freedom, along with the State Department’s office dedicated to monitoring and fighting anti-Semitism, are getting a boost. Both offices are now elevated at the State Department, reporting directly to the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights.

“This reorganization will provide these offices with additional staff and resources, and enhance partnerships both within our agency and without,” Pompeo said. “It will empower them to better carry out their important mandates.”

“For all those that run roughshod over religious freedom,” said Pompeo, “I’ll say this: The United States is watching and you will be held to account.”

 

 

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US Report Bashes China’s Religious Freedom Violations

With its crackdown on Christians and other faiths, the communist country ranks as a top offender by USCIRF for 20 years in a row.

May 2, 2019 by GRIFFIN PAUL JACKSON

US Report Bashes China’s Religious Freedom Violations

Barely a week after the bombing of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed nearly 300 on Easter Sunday, and a day after six Christians were killed at their church in Burkina Faso, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) made clear that the worst violators of religious freedom are gaining steam.

The findings are grim in 2019 report and echo the conclusions from this year’s Open Doors rankings, with China taking the brunt of the critique.

“As a Christian [living in China], your Bible may have been rewritten by the Chinese government, your church shuttered or demolished, and your pastor imprisoned,” the commission wrote. “As a human rights defender who works to protect people targeted for their faith, you may be arrested, or worse, disappeared.”

According to commissioner Johnnie Moore, this year’s report represents “the strongest stance against China in the history of the USCIRF.”

China was a primary focus of the first-ever USCIRF report released two decades ago, along with Russia and Sudan. The world’s most populous nation remains a Tier 1 “country of particular concern” (CPC) today, having made the list in each of the 20 annual releases. China also jumped to No. 27 on the 2019 World Watch List, which tracks the countries where it is hardest to be a Christian.

Christians and adherents of other faiths in China have seen an uptick in persecution as President Xi Jinping has consolidated power and abolished term limits, easing the way for a harsh government crackdown on believers and advocates of religious freedom.

Ministry leaders have weighed whether the moves represent “a step toward tighter government control, an opportunity to further indigenize and contextualize the faith, or perhaps both.”

In the past year, China banned the online purchase of Bibles, shuttered hundreds of churches—including major Protestant gatherings like Shouwang ChurchEarly Rain Covenant Church, and Zion Church—and pressed hard for the “sinicization” of religious institutions across China. Just last month, Hong Kong pastor Chu Yiu-ming and eight other activists were convicted for crimes related to their participation in pro-democracy movements.

David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, told Mission Network News after the commission’s release, “It’s just stunning the levels to which China is now going to persecute and to hold down the expression of Christian faith.”

But Christians have not been the only ones to suffer. Tibetan Buddhists are forbidden from displaying photos of or expressing public devotion to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama; hundreds of Falun Gong adherents were arrested for their faith; and a million ethnic Uighur Muslims have been forced into concentration camps. Of the more than 1,400 prisoners of conscience imprisoned in China as of last October, approximately half of them were detained, at least partly, for participating in religious practices “unauthorized” by Beijing.

“If we were to rate the Tier 1 countries, China would be in a category all by itself,” saidUSCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer in a news conference in Washington, DC. “The level of persecution—they are an equal opportunity persecutor. They go after anybody, any sect that might compete with the communist, atheistic government of China.”

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan group tasked with making policy recommendations around religious freedom abroad. In this year’s report, the authors noted that China has faced “few, if any consequences” for its abuses of religious freedom, despite US condemnation.

“Policy and practice now must focus on holding the responsible parties accountable,” they said, “ceasing China’s myriad abuses against all faith communities, and documenting the evidence of the atrocities that have occurred.”

The 28 countries and five terror entities USCIRF identifies as the worst in the world in terms of their assaults on religious freedom are nearly identical to the 2018 list, though the commission has recommended additions to the State Department’s official list of CPCs, which is more limited.

According to the commission, the 16 worst countries for their abuses of freedom of religion and conscience are Burma, the Central African Republic, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

All but one of these countries—Russia—make the top 30 most dangerous places to be a Christian according to the World Watch List. The commission notes how faiths and denominations not aligned with Moscow are perceived as foreign, missionary activity can be prosecuted or blanketed as “extremism,” religious groups are readily intimated, and the 2016 Yarovaya Law effectively banned public evangelism.

Per the report’s analysis on Russia: “Religious and other communities can be financially blacklisted or liquidated, and individuals can be subjected to criminal prosecution for social media posts that are arbitrarily determined to offend the religious sensibilities of others.”

Russia earned a spot among the commission’s top-tier countries for the first time in 2017 after it banned Jehovah’s Witnesses as extremists and was found to persecute religious minorities in Crimea and Donbas.

“In 2018, both state and nonstate actors increasingly used religion as a tool of exclusion to isolate, marginalize, and punish the ‘other’ through discrimination and violence,” says USCIRF.

The commission proposes a variety of policy recommendations in response to what it calls “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.” They include increased sanctions, aid programs that promote tolerance and respect for human rights, and increased funding to antiterrorism and defense programs.

Notably, of the 10 current CPCs listed by the State Department, four countries—Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan—are spared sanctions due to what the report calls the “important national interest of the United States.”

USCIRF’s list of Tier 2 countries, those that don’t meet all the qualifications of Tier 1 offenders but where the government engages in or permits significant religious freedom violations, includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.

The report’s five “entities of particular concern” are the Islamic State, the Taliban, Somalia’s al-Shabaab, and, newly added this year, Yemen’s Houthis and Syria’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

 

 

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