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Chinese Government: Give Up Your Faith, Or Else

Chinese Government: Give Up Your Faith, Or Else Read Transcript


Members of China's Communist Party

are being forced to give up their faith, or else.

That's according to a recent directive

from China's administration for religious affairs.

The party says members should not hold any religious belief,

but instead be firm Marxist atheists.

Brent Fulton, president of China Source,

joins us today to tell us what that means.

Mr. Fulton, thank you for joining us.

Well, thank you, Jessica.

Now, are there believers in China's Communist Party?

And what does this recent statement mean for them?

Well, here's the fundamental contradiction.

You have a country that allows freedom of religious belief

according to its constitution, but it's

led by Communist Party, the members of which all

have to be declared atheists.

And as the party has tried to become

more inclusive and really recruit the best of the best

to lead the country, they have had religious believers join.

There's been a resurgence of religious activity in China,

and so as they've been recruiting,

there have been Christians and others

who have risen to the top and have been recruited.

Now, in the past, they've been rather tolerant of this

and there hasn't been much said about it.

But now, there is a resurgence within the party

of an emphasis on unity within the party

and more of an emphasis is on ideology.

Yes, the statement that you're referring to

says that faith actually undermines

the party's unity and actually a threat to China's Communist

Party.

Yes, under President Xi Jinping,

there's been really a swing towards purity

within the party, and that means ideological purity.

There's also been a renewed anti-foreign sentiment

within the government, believing that foreign governments,

namely the United States, are using groups

like religious groups in China to try

to undermine the government.

And so the government's giving particular attention

to Christian groups within China.

And the party's concerned that there are

Christians within the party.

Well, Brent, what is the party trying to accomplish

with this directive?

Can we expect a new wave of persecution

against Chinese Christians?

I think it's important, first of all,

to ask why is this coming out?

I mean, it's been party policies since day one

that everybody in the party must be an atheist.

So why suddenly this emphasis on rooting out religious believers

within the party?

Well, there's going to be a big party

Congress in China in October.

They do this every five years.

And in the run up to this year's party Congress the leaders

of the party-- from Xi Jinping, the president,

all the way down--

are really emphasizing more ideology.

And so I think it is not unexpected, then,

that the official in charge of religious affairs in China

would have to speak up and say, well, part of party unity

is making sure that we don't have religious believers

within the party.

So I think it's a broader drive within the government

and the party that's really pushing this now.

So how does the Chinese church respond to something like this?

Well, the Chinese church's response all along

has been rather pragmatic.

There are Christians who have been recruited into the party,

because they're excellent in the academic world

or in business or in other areas.

And those who recruit them may know that they are believers,

but they may not make a big deal out of it.

Then you have others who are already in the party

and become Christians.

And it's very hard, once somebody is in the party,

to actually quit the party.

And even Christians who have tried

to give up their party membership have been told no,

you can't do that.

Just be quiet.

And so so far, Christians have been

able to kind of maintain this pragmatic stance

vis-a-vis the party.

It's possible, moving forward, that we

will see Christians and other religious believers removed

from the party, forced to quit, and that more Christians

would be losing influential positions in the society--

perhaps losing their jobs, because

of their Christian beliefs.

Well, that being said, how can Christians pray for China?

We really need to be praying for the leadership of China.

Under Xi Jinping, things have gotten a lot tighter.

The government has been exerting its control

in every corner of society, obviously including

religion as we see here.

So we need to pray that the Lord would

move the hearts of China's leaders

to recognize that the Christians in their midst

are not a threat to the country, but are

in fact people that can make a great contribution

to the future of the nation.

And then pray for wisdom for believers

as they encounter an increasingly challenging,

in some ways an increasingly tight situation,

that they would know how to respond wisely.

Brent Fulton, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.

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