Protestant plan for Chinese Christianity 'serves politics'

Critics say state organizations promoting five-year blueprint have never opposed China's clampdown on religious freedom
Protestant plan for Chinese Christianity 'serves politics'

A cross of a Protestant church catches fire as Henan local government officials demolish it in September 2017. (Photo internet screengrab)

ucanews.com reporters, Hong Kong
China
April 17, 2018
Critics of the Protestant five-year plan for Chinese Christianity claim it serves politics rather than faith.

The blueprint, announced in Nanjing on March 28, aims to Sinicize Christianity with a strategy that includes writing a secular version of the Bible in line with socialist values.

Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the divinity school at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told ucanews.com that Protestantism was the quickest of the five major religions in China to respond to Sinicization, the focus of President Xi Jinping's religious policy.

He said no new ideas were in the plan as it only stated some "great principles" that had been mentioned previously.

Ying said the plan to reinterpret the Bible might cause more controversy, especially after the recent ban on online sales of the Bible.

"I personally think retranslation of the Bible is a massive project and China still does not have enough talents to do it," he said.

Or Yan Yan, a project officer at the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong, told ucanews.com that the two Protestant national committees of the China Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement are government-controlled organizations and will not be independent in their work.

She said politics will take precedence, such as by celebrating the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China and the and 100th anniversary of Communist Party of China.

"There is no clear vision of faith, evangelization and cultivation of faithfulness," she said.

"Under the newly revised regulations on religious affairs, rule of law and human rights have been suppressed, house churches have been eliminated, and minors have been deprived of their religious rights, but those [Protestant] religious figures never spoke out and have now endorsed the authority."

Or believes the Catholic Church cannot avoid the need for similar plans since "all religions should be identical when the government is unifying thoughts and ideology."

Yu Bo, deputy director of the former State Administration for Religious Affairs, attended the ceremony to launch the Protestant five-year plan.

He said Sinicization was an objective rule that conformed to the development of religions in China, and religious people should consciously study the exposition of President Xi on religious work.

He said religions should adhere to the core values of socialism, consciously integrate into China's culture and develop China's own theological ideology.

Reverend Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council, said its predecessors had made every effort to promote the Sinicization of Christianity and regarded it as key to the survival of Christianity in China.

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The five-year plan aims to consolidate the construction of theological ideas and the practice of socialist core values in the new era, he said.

He said theological transformation should be implemented alongside serious enforcement of the revised regulations on religious affairs.

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