The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demanded churches to pray for dead Communist soldiers as it bans prayers offering tributes to Christian martyrs of the CCP.
This enigmatic move of the CCP allowing Chinese Christians to pray and worship openly is part of its commemoration of the Chinese people’s victory over the Japanese and the World Anti-Fascist War 76 years ago. But this temporary liberty comes with strict conditions.
A recent article published by Bitter Winter, an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights, claims that Chinese Christians must solely honor in prayer the Red Army’s soldiers who died fighting the Japanese aggressors. They are barred from mentioning the Christian martyrs and Nationalists killed under communist rule. Since all peace prayer activities will be monitored and documented, the CCP will know if the rule is obeyed or the Christians at fault will face the consequences.
CCP’s tight control over Christian churches
Chinese government’s grip on the practice of Christianity is institutionalized through the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which is the united Protestant Church composed of around 60,000 Three-Self Churches. The leaders and pastors of these churches are trained, appointed, and supervised by the China Christian Council. Enjoining the local church members to church associations ensures conformity with the CCP rule. This will also prevent the formation of house churches that cannot be easily watched by the CCP.
A Notice dated 25 August this year has been issued for the Christian churches in all autonomous regions and provinces to follow. It said: “Local churches can carry out peace prayer activities in a small and decentralized form according to local actual conditions”, observing health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and to ‘further promote the fine traditions of patriotism and love of religion and demonstrate the goodness of Christianity in our country that loves peace.”
An important feature of the Notice requires that all planned activities must be properly recorded. Documentations in the video, photo, and other platforms should be submitted to the Media Ministry of the National Christian and National Councils not later than 10 September 2021.
A sample of this Notice took place at the Fujian Theological Seminary in late August when three invited members of a local Three-Self Church paid homage to communist soldiers killed during the “People’s War of Resistance Against the Japanese Aggression.’
As prescribed by the Three-Self Churches, prayers must pertain to Jesus as King of Peace with China’s peaceful reunification with Taiwan in mind.
Jinping’s Speech in Sermons, Preaching, Bible Study
An article in one Christian Headlines edition described how pastors gathered for mentoring in a national conference organized by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and China Christian Council. The order was for them to integrate with their sermon, Bible Study, and preaching excerpts of President Xi Jinping’s speech delivered 1 July 2021, during the centennial of the CCP.
It was like a template on how to organize their sermons taken from President Jinping’s speech about CCP’s roots, Marxism, as well as strong warnings to Taiwan and the West.
They instructed the Christian pastors to incorporate the CCP as the people’s party, and along with President Jinping, as the success behind China’s rejuvenation as a nation. The sermons and preaching must tell that “The era when the Chinese nation was slaughtered and bullied is gone forever.”
China ranks 17th in the world as the most dangerous country for Christians. Over 400 Christians have been arrested from April to June this year concerning CCP’s 100th-year celebration.