China Aid Association
and the State:
history and the impact of the early stage Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church
One of the main modes of the relationship between the
church and the state is so-called separation (between them). The
Communist Party of China (CPC) keeps claiming that the church and the state in China
are totally separated and the churches have real freedom of religion. But it
seems to be very inconvincible.
As a matter of fact, the church and the state have
unimaginable close relationship. For instance, Michael Fu Tieshan, Bishop of
Beijing and Chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (the highest
non-Roman Catholic official in China),
is one of eight Vice Presidents of the China’s National People’s Congress.
And the retired Bishop K.H.Ting (the real highest leader of the Three-Self
protestant churches in China)
is one of Vice Chairpersons of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s
Politic Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Meanwhile, other national level
religious leaders are accordingly offered equal positions at the CPPCC, one of
the two national legislative organizations respectively.
Besides that those national level religious leaders are
appointed as Party and National Leaders as officially entitled,
which are equal to the Deputy Premier of the State Council (i.e. the Central
People’s Government), all the religious organizations of different levels, are
governmental departments subject to the relevant level religious affairs
bureaus. No wonder the religious leaders obtain civil servants’ salary, and
hold official passports when visiting overseas. And also no wonders the voices
from the churches are exactly same as that from the Communists.
In one word, the Three-Self
as well as other religions in China,
are entirely state-run organizations; they are just attached to the communist
government without any independence. Then the questions would come:
How could the state, especially a communist one, control
the church? And why have Three-Self protestant churches in China transform in such a mode?
In order to get the answers, the history should be traced
back to the 1950s.
The History of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement:
In the late of 1949, the Communist Party of China took
control of the Mainland China. As a typical anti-Christ atheist political
party, the CPC has always been pretending to be the savior of the Chinese
people ever since its foundation in 1921. Then, after it came into power, how
could it tolerant the existence of the true God the Savior? And, how could it
just stand by and look on if the churches keep preaching the gospel, and if the
Christian population keeps rapidly growing in the New Socialist China?
Definitely it is impossible.
Therefore, from the very beginning of the Liberation
in 1949, the CPC plotted very carefully to wipe out all the religions,
especially the Christianity, which is considered as most closely related to
those western imperialists and most dangerous to the new regime. Now
it is clear that how the CPC planed to fulfill its aim of wiping out the
churches as well as other religions step by step, under the term of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement. This movement mainly consists of the following
The first step of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement is to
get rid of anything foreign influence: this included to drive out
all foreign missionaries, take over all mission institutions (hospitals, relief
centers and schools) as state-run ones, forbid all missionary organizations to
carry out their business (the National Council of the Churches in China was
dismissed shortly after the Liberation and never restored till now), cut
any relationship with the outside (including withdrawal of the representatives
from the WCC, the World Council of the Churches), and so on.
By the end of the second year after Liberation, the
CPC had successfully achieved its first aim. Then came the second step of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which actually happened simultaneously with the
first one, to rebuild the religion workers and the religion-believing
What is so-called to rebuild the religion
workers and the religion-believing crowds or the thoughts
rebuilding movement? It means to persuade them to believe and agree with that
not only had the western imperialists misused the Christianity as a device of
invading China throughout the modern history, but also all the foreign
missionaries consequently were nothing but those imperialists’ loyal lackeys,
co-murderers or religious peddlers.
Unfortunately, these terms are still officially employed
nowadays. For example, they are countless shown in LuoGuanzhong’s
extraordinary works, Commemorating the History as a Lesson for the
Future: A Modern History of the Christianity and the Imperialism in China (1840-1949), Religion and Culture
Then, what would happen if some religion workers or
religion-believing crowds refused to be rebuilt? The history tells us
that there was several thousands of pastors killed, murdered or disappeared,
and much more pastors and Christians were put into jails or labor campuses in
the early 1950s, some of who died in jail, or spent nearly forty years there
before re-getting the freedom.
The former category of which were killed early in the
movement were defined as the counter-revolutionaries, while the latter the
sixth black-listed category, listing after the landlords, rich farmers,
counter-revolutionaries, villains and right wings, all of whom
should be suppressed at a different level by the people’s government.
During that period, the Korean War unexpectedly broke out
on June 25, 1950;
and the communist China
was unfortunately involved into the meaningless war. The Chinese Christians
were then publicly taken as the internal enemies standing with the
The CPC no-doubly made use of the war at once. It
organized a political meeting of the national church leaders in Beijing, and forced the
participants to pass a solution titled as The Way for Chinese Christians in
Building New China in the July of that year, which was latterly known as The
Three-Self Declaration. The Three-Self Declaration is a historic document
reflecting the rebuilding movement.
With the issuing of the Declaration, the National
Committee of the Counter-USA, aiding-(North) Korea and Three-Self Reformation
Movement of the Protestant Church in China
stepped onto the historic stage with fresh fine powder, of which the main
leaders, from the first President Mr. Wu Yaozong
to the first Secretary-General Rev. Li Chuwen,
none of whom was not a CPC member.
Apparently, instead of an ecumenical organization, it is
an anti-Christ governmental institution, which function is nothing but to
destroy the churches and persecute the true pastors and Christians. Through
this new organization, the CPC inserted a lot of its secrete members
into the churches and tried to take control of them.
In 1958, the CPC initiated another famous movement: the
Greater Leaping Forward movement, whereby it hoped to catch up UK in
15 years and US in 20 years. It seems to be a pure economic movement, but in
fact another disastrous political movement.
All those that were backward should be wiped out, including anything
feudal, superstitious or reactionary. Christianity is considered to be contented
all of these conditions, so that it could no longer hinder the movement.
In that background, the third step of the Three-Self
Patriotic Movement started with the Greater Leaping Forward, which was
called the Uniting Service movement. The CPC abolished all the
denominations and their organizations, and announced that the denominations no
longer existed in China.
Meanwhile, the CPC forced the Christians of different
denominational backgrounds to attend the Uniting Service at arranged
churches. Usually there was only one church opened for the Uniting Service
in each county or city or equal locality where there were churches and a
certain number of Christians. The rest church buildings were taken over by the
CPC. For instance, before the Uniting Service, there were one hundred
and ninety-eight church and institution buildings in the city of Shanghai. When the
movement came, only ten churches remained open for the Uniting Service.
What is more, The CPC invented another base method that
was to shift the working day. It made Sunday as working day, but one of
weekdays as off day. Therefore, the uniting service became old people’s clubs!
By the end of 1958, those remaining patriotic
pastors found that they had been really unemployed. Because there was
almost nobody coming to the churches, which was just the CPC glad to see. When
the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, the church had already been closed; and
the CPC proudly announced that all religions have been put into the historic
The Impact of the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement:
Apparently, the 1950-58 Three-Self Patriotic Movement
resulted in a lot disastrous aftermaths, which have been lasting nowadays.
Firstly, the Three-Self churches lost its independent
identity and many basic functions, becoming attached official institutions
without any freedom. They could no long develop themselves and spread the
Gospel as their will, just like a bird kept in the cage, though none of them
likes to be so.
Secondly, the Three-Self churches became absolute isolated
from the ecumenical churches. Although they have some relationship with
overseas counterparts, they are just to help the CPC to propagate the policy of
the freedom for religious practice, which does not exist at all.
Thirdly, some of the Three-Self churches’ leaders act as
the police agencies, helping the latter to persecute their members together
with the house church Christians. Therefore, the Three-Self churches are
precisely described as religious affairs bureaus’ branches and
secrete religious police stations, although it is only some church leaders’
No wonder, the Three-Self churches have been a device of
the state to fulfill the evil mission of wiping out the Protestant churches, registered
or nor, rather than a real church as having been pretending so at all.
Mr. Luo, a senior CPC member, is former President (1996-2002) of the
National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant
Churches in China or the
National TSPM and co-Director of the Consultative Commission of the
National TSPM and the China
Christian Council or CCC since 2002.
The funny long term was replaced by a shorter one as the National Committee
of the Three-Self Reformation Movement of the Protestant Churches in China
firstly in 1953 when the war was ended, and then eventually transformed into
the nowaday term of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic
Movement of the Protestant Churches in China in 1958 when the Greater
Leaping Forward started.
Mr. Wu (or Y. T. Wu, 1893-1979) declared that he was an entire atheist
and denied the existence of God in his article titled as Where Is the God
in Tian Feng magazine in 1950, and recognized that he was a CPC member
since the 1930s when the Great Cultural Revolution broke out. Thereafter
he kept idle till his death in Shanghai.
Rev. Li, an ordained Anglican priest, was Senior Pastor of the Shanghai
Community Church before he encountered persecution as a religion worker by the
local communists, who did not know that he was actually a comrade and a
secrete CPC member in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, and
announced publicly his true identity. Afterwards, he was appointed as senior
party or government official till his retirement from the post of the
Vice-Director of the Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong and Macao Branch (the second
top China’s official in Hong Kong and Macao before 1997).
During the Movement the economy did not develop as hoped, but fell a lot, with
at least two percent of the whole population starving to death by the end of
the movement in 1963.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]