Sources in China have indicated that the persecution facing Christians at this time may be the worst since the radical actions of the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong. Crosses are being torn down around the country and the central government has insisted on obtaining control of churches. A policy of Sinicization has been instituted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in its attempts to eliminate what is perceived as foreign influence and make everything fit under its concept of Chinese culture and beliefs.
A blatant example of Sinicization was found in an official textbook featuring a story from the Bible, specifically referencing a passage recorded in the book of John. In the original text, Jesus speaks to the woman caught in adultery and says, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (8:11 ESV). When this story is recounted in the official Professional Ethics and Law textbook, it instead reads, "When everyone went out, Jesus stoned the woman himself and said, 'I am also a sinner.'" The textbook used the story to show how the law is powerless if only those without sin enforce it. Consequently, the implication of the textbook lesson is that wrong behaviours committed by judicial officials should be tolerated, reflecting the values of the CCP.
Online censorship is also strongly enforced in China, blocking access to websites and materials that do not comply with CCP values. This has led some organizations to utilize alternate ways to distribute Christian materials. Recently the online bookstore of the officially sanctioned Christian Council of China and the country's Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) churches updated the titles and descriptions of their books. The Chinese character for Christ was replaced with "JD" or completely removed. The word "Christians" was covered with coloured blocks. References to "Jesus" became "YS" and the "Bible" became "SJ." Other religious terms were frequently covered as well, in order to keep any obvious references to Christianity from being blocked by online filters.
The Christian Council of China and the TSPM churches were given special sanction in 2001 to print and distribute the Bible within China. However, the online content censorship, as well as the imposed restrictions for selling the Bible in regular bookstores, demonstrates that even in cases involving permission there are hurdles due to the strong controls of the CCP. To learn more about the mounting difficulties being experienced by Christians in China, go to our country report.
Please prayerfully uphold our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ as they endure ongoing opposition from the CCP. Pray that those being monitored by the government will be strengthened by the ministry of God's Spirit -- His wonderful love, peace, protection and provision. Ask the Lord to grant wisdom to all who are seeking creative ways to work around the governmental restrictions in order to share the Good News of Jesus. Pray that despite this era of growing oppression, the pure unadulterated Word of God will spread throughout China so millions more will come to faith in Him.