Proposed New Amendments to Religious Laws in China
The Chinese government has released a set of proposed amendments to its rules regulating religious affairs, as President Xi Jinping attempts to exert even greater control over how religion is practised.
The new set of amendments, released to the public on 7th September includes guidelines on religious education, the types of religious organisations that can exist, where they can exist and the activities they can organise.
Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, emphasised the need for provincial officials to have a greater overall understanding of religion, so that they are better able to resist “foreign” religions.
The idea of resisting “foreign” religions is generally taken as an attack on Christianity, which is considered a product of the West, promoted by foreign powers with the intention of destabilising Chinese “harmony”.
The release of these amendments comes shortly after China’s broadcasting regulator announced that it is planning to curb all social and entertainment news that promotes Western lifestyles.
According to Thomas Muller, analyst at Open Doors’ World Watch Research unit, “This all fits into the current government’s efforts to ‘Sinicize’ every aspect of Chinese life – be it culture, news or religion.”
“[The] implications for Chinese Christians remain to be seen, but it might well be that these directives find their way into new regulations affecting the Church in China,” said an Asia analyst for Open Doors, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Freedom in all sectors of society [has been] shrinking since Xi Jinping came into power, and there is evidence that the government is also tightening its grip on the Three Self Patriotic Movement [the state-approved Church].”
In a recent podcast, US-based political scientist Carsten Vala said: “Christianity has attracted younger and better-educated followers in recent decades, and the Communist Party has become increasingly concerned that this may pose a threat to its power.”
However, he also said that stronger pressure on the Church has, in recent decades, always led to stronger Church growth, and that the most likely response to further pressure would be for more Christians to go “underground”.
- Pray for the Church in China in the light of these proposed amendments to religious freedom. Pray for wisdom for Church leaders and courage for Chinese Christians to live out their faith day by day.
- Pray for the Chinese government as they seek to control religion, and especially Christianity. Pray that many in government will encounter Jesus Christ and come to know the Truth of His Gospel. Pray too, that they will see Jesus as relevant to their culture, not just as a western God.
- Pray for young people in china to continue to be drawn to the Gospel, especially the millions of students, who will go on to have positions of authority and influence in the country.
- Pray that the Church in China will continue to grow, including in the more remote, and mostly unreached areas of Western China.
2 Chronicles 20 vs 6: ” ‘O Lord, God of our ancestors, are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you.'”