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A Three-Self Church preacher in the Demonstration Zone of Shangqiu city, in China’s central Henan Province, was disappointed when the sermon that he had sent to the local authorities for approval was denied. The reply, which he received on 15 March, stated that the content of the sermon was substandard: too much religion and not enough communist ideology.

Two major concerns were indicated: the statement that “God made heaven and earth, and created everything”, and that the quotes from the Bible were given without any Chinese interpretations or the inclusion of any traditional Chinese culture aspects.

The censorship of sermons is a common occurrence in today’s China. The clergy of the government-approved churches are required to submit for authorities’ review everything they plan to say to their congregations.

A colleague of the censored preacher said that the government wants all sermons to be in accord with the Party ideology and its current policies; they should always praise the goodness of leaders and beauty of China’s nature. 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.

“We’re in a very difficult position now,” the preacher said helplessly. “By making us write these sinicised sermons, isn’t the Chinese Communist Party forcing us to tell lies and go against the Lord’s words?”

A massive new wave of persecution of Christians has been taking place in China since China’s president, Xi Jinping, introduced a five-year plan to sinicise all the nation’s religions by infusing them with ‘Chinese characteristics’ such as loyalty to the Communist Party.

About 100 million Christians live in China, but only 30 million are affiliated with the government-authorised Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), the state church controlled by the communist government. The remaining 70 million worship in unapproved house churches.

Sources: Bitter Winter, The Voice of the Martyrs USA

  • Pray the Lord will grant great wisdom to the leaders of official churches in China, especially when they must deal with the authorities.
  • Pray they will remain faithful and be resolved to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
  • Thank God for the faithfulness of Chinese Christians and the continued church growth.

Post your prayer for China in the comments below.