(Guangzhou, Guangdong Province—May 05, 2021) The bookstore of Sha Mian Tang Church, a well-known Christian church in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, displayed a large number of the book, The Governance of China, written by Xi Jinping, as well as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s “Little Red Book.” Sha Mian Tang’s gospel bookstore, however, did not display any collections of gospel books.
On Sunday, April 11, Yu Jie, a Chinese American author (Mongolian descent) posted on Facebook “The gospel bookstore of Guangzhou Christian Church—Shamian Church, displayed a large number of Xi Jinping’s books. Seeing this kind of photo on Sunday morning really shocked me.”
The Governance of China features a collection of Xi Jinping’s reports, speeches, conversations, instructions, and congratulatory letters, collected from the beginning of his regime. CCP professionals, not President Xi, wrote and organized the collection thematically. These annotated volumes of collections also include photos of Xi Jinping during his tenure as China’s ruler.
According to reports, the Party’s Administration for Religious Affairs organized Christians to study The Governance of China. Jiangsu Nantong Christian Church had organized church pastors/leaders to learn information in this book. Each of those who participated in the study needed to speak about their own learning experience. The report stated: “Everyone unanimously agrees to run Nantong’s Church well. It is imperative to learn General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speeches.” The Zhongshan Ethnic and Religious Bureau of Guangdong Province also organized for those in the religious sector to study The Governance of China and insisted that they host workshops/seminars on Sinicization of religion in China.
The CCP forced the church to accept the official socialist core values, going as far as attempting to control and influence the thoughts of Christian citizens through the means noted, and to bring the Christian church in as a subordinate group under the CCP. Due to the profoundness of Christian doctrines and traditions, many Christian churches have refused to blindly follow this protocol. Nevertheless, in response to the government’s forceful actions, some churches have superficial followed official instructions. Simultaneously, many religious personnel holding positions in official churches have chosen to give in to those demands.
David Meng, a visiting scholar in the US, and a pro-democracy activist, has closely monitored Chinese religious law and policies. He said regarding this issue:
China has a saying “birds of a feather flock together,” and in the Bible, it states “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” In today’s China, the Christian Church’s bookstores are filled with books “written” by the Party’s leader Xi Jinping and other Communist China’s red ideology books. This is the typical “Dove occupying a magpie’s nest.”
This CCP’s rationale will not only fail to engage Christians, instead, it adds a sense of detest. The leading cause of the issue originates from the significant retrogression of China’s religious management system since Xi Jinping gained power. China’s religious management department deviated from the government’s sequence, openly becoming the direct subordinate of the United Front Work Department (atheistic in its nature). It became directly under the management of the CCP, a typical example of the government interfering and taking things into its own hands.
The Church of England initially built Shamian Christian Church, previously located in the Shamian Guangzhou British Concession, as a place of worship for British expatriates. The Qing Dynasty founded the church in 1864. Under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Victoria Diocese, and historically called the Guangzhou Foreigners Church or Anglican Church, situated at the western part of the concession, it became a public place of worship for foreigners. A British pastor presided over the church and preached sermons in English. After 1949, however, the CCP commandeered the church.
In 1989, the CCP relinquished the church’s administration to the Guangdong Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church and Guangdong Christian Council. After significant renovations, the church resumed services in 1991. From 1994 to 2001, as Shamian Christian Church served as the location for the second campus of Canton Union Theological College, it became a “cradle” to cultivate clergies.
Currently, Shamian Christian Church directly affiliates with the Guangdong Christian Council.
~ Gao Zhensai, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid