Chinese officials have replaced the 10 Commandments with quotes from President Xi Jinping in just about every Three-Self church in a county of Luoyang city in Henan province. This is just another in a series of steps the government is taking to systematically destroy all of the country’s churches, one pastor told Bitter Winter, which monitors religious and human rights violations in China.
“The Communist Party’s ultimate goal is to ‘become God,’” he said. “This is what the devil has always done.”
10 Commandments Removed
An anonymous source told Bitter Winter that after the church finally gave into the state’s demands to replace the 10 Commandments, officials still reprimanded the congregation. At the end of June, authorities told them, “The Party must be obeyed in every respect. You have to do whatever the Party tells you to do. If you contradict, your church will be shut down immediately.”
Officials have already shut down some Three-Self churches for not complying with its demands, while other congregations were told they might be blacklisted. Being blacklisted would mean the government would impose restrictions on members’ travel, future employment, and their children’s education.
This is not the first time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has tampered with the 10 Commandments. Last December, Bitter Winter reported that 30 officials inspected a church in Dongcun (also in Henan province) and ordered the first of the 10 Commandments to be erased. This is the command saying, “You shall have no other gods before me.” According to the report, one of the officials told the offending church, “Xi Jinping opposes this statement. Who dares not to cooperate? If anyone doesn’t agree, they are fighting against the country.”
Different Varieties of Oppression
Xi Jinping has expressly stated the CCP is pursuing the sinicization of religion in China. To “sinicize” means “to make Chinese.” Per the government’s interpretation of what that means, sinicizing Christianity includes compelling churches to use a government-approved translation of the Bible, school textbook censorship that removes terms like “God” and “Bible,” and the re-education of Chinese pastors so that their preaching complies with the wishes of the CCP. Fox News also reports that the government has banned minors from attending church, although that can be difficult to enforce.
It’s not just Christianity that the government is targeting, but any religion it perceives as a threat. In inner Mongolia, the state has eliminated writing in Arabic, as well as symbols associated with Islam, such as the moon and star and even halal symbols on grocery bags.
And this is not to mention the overt oppression that is taking place in China against Christians and other groups. The state’s persecution of Early Rain Church in Sichuan that ChurchLeaders reported on in December is a story that continues to develop. Pastor Wang Yi is still imprisoned, and an associate with ChinaAid told the Washington Examiner, “Based on past imprisonments of previous people, he is almost definitely being tortured.” This is only one example of many of how the government has been putting various levels of pressure on Chinese churches in recent months.
Furthermore, the state is committing extensive and troubling human rights violations against the Uighur people, a predominantly Muslim people group living in China. These abuses include detaining, re-educating, and at times torturing at least a million people for crimes like having “extremist thoughts.”
The Gospel Is Growing
Despite the government’s attempts to suppress the gospel, Christianity is growing in China. One group estimates that if underground Christians are taken into account, there could be close to 100 million believers in the country.
Let us continue to remember and pray for people across the world who are suffering under oppressive regimes.