Chinese government officials within the past year have closed churches, removed crosses, buried Bibles and beaten Christians.
Now, they’re apparently editing the Bible out of sermons, too.
A pastor in Shangqiu city in Henan province told Bitter Winter that local communist officials told him to delete a theological statement from his sermon – “God made heaven and earth, and created everything” – and to include more Chinese traditions and beliefs.
The pastor leads a government-registered Three-Self Protestant church and had sent his sermon to local authorities for approval.
“The censorship of sermons is a common occurrence in today’s China,” Bitter Winter’s Xin Lu wrote. Bitter Winter is a religious liberty watchdog that monitors human rights violations within China.
Three-Self pastors are required to “submit for authorities’ review everything they plan to say to their congregations.” It’s one of the reasons millions of Chinese Christians worship in illegal unregistered churches.
The Shangqui city pastor was chastised and told the Bible quotes in his sermon should include “Chinese interpretations.” The sermon also should examine Scripture within the context of Chinese culture, officials told him.
“We’re in a very difficult position now,” the preacher told Bitter Winter. “By making us write these ‘sinicized’ sermons, isn’t the CCP forcing us to tell lies and go against the Lord’s words?”
Bitter Winter reported the Chinese government “wants all sermons to be in accord with the Party ideology” and its “current policies.”
“[Sermons] should always praise the goodness of leaders and beauty of China’s nature,” Bitter Winter said, explaining the rules. “Sermons should include topics like the evolution or the Communist Party’s faultless leadership and kindness as the reason for the good life of China’s citizens.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Hanny Naibaho/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.