China Religious Restrictions Tighten, but Chinese Pastor Released.

In Beijing, top Politburo official Yu Zhengsheng has told faith leaders that religious groups must promote Chinese culture and become more compatible with socialism. They also  released orders for retired party cadres to shun all religious activity.

Beijing tightens control on religious beliefs

According to the state news agency Xinhua, “[Yu] called on religious groups in China to continue adding Chinese characteristics, dig into positive elements in their religions and make more effort in building a religious ideology with Chinese characteristics.”

There are five officially recognised religions in China — Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism.

The Chinese national broadcaster CCTV broadcast Yu’s instructions on its evening bulletin on February 4th.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has moved towards a more repressive policy on religion, emphasising the traditional Chinese faiths over those deemed to have been imported from overseas. Xi regularly quotes from Confucius, whose popularity has grown  in recent years, while Christians, Muslims and Buddhists have complained of growing persecution.

Amidst a campaign by the provincial authorities in Zhejiang, more than 1,500 church crosses have been removed over the past two years and authorities there have started a new programme, that includes efforts to tie Bible passages to party doctrine.

In another major shift towards restrictive state policy on religious practice, the party’s Central Committee and State Council have issued an edict ordering retired officials to steer clear of religion.

“[The circular] clearly states that retired cadres cannot believe in religion, cannot participate in religious activities and must resolutely fight against cults,” and retired officials must distinguish between “ethnic customs” and “believing in religions.”

Although Beijing has barred active party members from practising religion, this is the first time a state document has also ordered retired officials not to follow a faith, since the party set up its retirement system in 1982.

Meanwhile, China Aid has received confirmation that authorities have released a church pastor in Zhejiang. Pastor Huang Yizi  was detained in a black jail since September 2015., meaning that during his detention, authorities did not allow him to meet with lawyers or speak with his family.

  • Give thanks for the release of  Pastor Huang Yizi from detention. Pray for  him and his family, and also for his church, for protection from further persecution.
  • Pray for the Chinese government, as it looks to bring in ever restrictive laws against religion. Pray that they will allow freedom of belief and worship across China, without fear and suspicion.
  • Pray for Chinese Christians, often living in fear of persecution. Pray for courage to share their faith, wisdom as to how to witness, and for opportunities to meet with other Christians and to be encouraged as they do so.
  • Pray for good discipleship materials and mature leaders for the Chinese church as it continues to grow.

Acts 14 vs 22: “There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, ‘It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.’”



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