CHINA TRYING TO REWRITE THE BIBLE AND FORCE CHURCHES TO SING COMMUNIST ANTHEMS
The Chinese government is supervising a 5 year plan to make Christianity more compatible with socialism including “rewriting” the Bible, the Rev. Bob Fu, a former Chinese house church leader and the founder of the persecution watchdog organization China Aid has told the US Congress. As China’s crackdown on religion has seen many house churches demolished and thousands of crosses removed from churches nationwide, Fu warned that what is happening now in China represents the highest degree of persecution for independent faith groups the country has seen in decades.
“Religious freedom in China is at the worst level since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao” Fu told members of Congress. At the centre of the persecution is China’s new regulation on religious affairs. According to Fu, the revision of the regulations are to actively guide religion to “adapt to socialist society.” Under the new regulations religious groups will “be guided and supervised by the local people’s government.” In order to comply with the regulations, the Three Self Patriotic Movement and the Chinese Christian Council (China’s state-sanctioned Protestant bodies) have developed a 5 year plan on “promoting the Sinicization of Christianity.”
The plan proposes “implementing socialist core values by “retranslating” the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and adding new commentary to the New Testament to make socialist ideals and Chinese culture seem more divine. “The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change Christianity in China into ‘Chinese Christianity,’” he explained. Fu said, “The new Bible must not look westernized and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” Fu said. Fu added that the 5 year plan advocates for “incorporating Chinese elements into church worship services and clergy attire.
This includes publishing worship songs with Chinese characteristics and promoting the Sinicization of worship music, using uniquely Chinese art forms, such as Chinese painting and calligraphy to express the Christian faith,’” he said. “It’s also encouraging churches to blend in with Chinese architecture.” Fu said that churches that have crosses on the inside must “put up pictures of Chairman Mao and Chairman Xi Jinping on both sides of the cross.” “In the beginning of every church worship service, the choir of the church has to sing a few communist revolutionary songs praising the communist party before they can sing the worship songs,” he detailed.
There have been reports that state officials are going door-to-door trying to get Christians to sign a statement renouncing their Christian faith claiming they were misled by evangelists into believing Christianity. In some provinces, they have even banned children from going to church. Fu said there is also a plan to shut down about two-thirds of the state-sanctioned churches in China in an effort to merge them. State officials have also urged 20,000 house churches to close and join state-sanctioned churches, according to Fu. Fu said clergy have been forced to go through an examination to ensure their loyalty is to party before God.
Slogans are being hung around churches, even Catholic churches, on the walls and doors saying ‘Listen to the words of the party, follow the path of the party.’ How can you have your own faith as believers? As Christians we are taught to listen and obey the commands of the Lord. Essentially, the communist party wants to impose themselves as Lord over the church.” Fu said that according to the former chairman of the TSPM, they believe the “doctrine of justification of faith by Jesus Christ is too narrow.” Hundreds of Christian Chinese leaders have signed a statement condemning the new regulations and the control the party is taking over the churches.
Source: The Christian Post
VATICAN-CHINA DEAL A BETRAYAL TO MILLIONS OF CHRISTIANS
Christian human rights groups and some Catholic bishops are voicing their concerns with the Vatican’s recent decision to allow the Chinese government to select bishop candidates at a time when the communist regime is cracking down on religious freedom. After the Vatican announced that a provisional agreement was reached with the Chinese government in Beijing to end seven decades of conflict over who should appoint Catholic bishops in the communist nation, several Christians, Catholics and other rights activists have argued that the Vatican has seemingly legitimized China at a time when it has a long record of oppression against religious groups.
While certain details of the deal remain unknown, reports of the agreement indicate that Chinese officials will submit a candidate for bishop to the Vatican and the pope will have final say over the matter. The agreement comes at a time in which the secular Chinese government has taken extreme measures to limit the religious freedom of Christians and other religious groups in the nation, whether it’s through demolishing hundreds of churches, urging Christians to sign papers to denounce their faith or even its campaign to tear down crosses and burn Bibles.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a United Nations-accredited persecution watchdog NGO, is among the human rights groups that have signalled its concerns about the deal. “CSW is deeply concerned about the timing of this provisional agreement between the Chinese government and the Vatican,” CSW’s East Asia Team Leader Benedict Rogers said in a statement. “While we understand some of the motivations behind the Vatican’s effort toward an agreement, there are significant concerns about the implications for freedom of religion or belief in China.”
Rogers asserted that if the agreement is to have “real value,” the agreement itself must have freedom of religion or belief as one of its central components. “We reiterate our call on the Chinese authorities to release all Catholics in China held in any form of detention, and all others detained in connection with their peaceful religious activities,” Rogers concluded. CSW warns that since China’s passing of the Regulations on Religious Affairs in February, authorities have demolished at least 20 churches and removed or destroyed at least 100 crosses. Additionally, there have been hundreds of arrests just in the Henan province alone.
“While we understand the eagerness of the Vatican in searching for more legitimacy in the eye of the Chinese Communist Party, this reported deal is nothing but a betrayal of both the millions of suffering persecuted Christians in China and the global Catholic Church,” China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement. “This could be a repeat of the 1940s Hitler’s Germany, when the German state church consented to the persecution and slaughtered millions of Jews. Ironically, how can the Vatican respond with a good clear conscience for this appeasement deal while the CCP just launched a secret war vowing the wipe out of underground Catholics and Protestants?”
The National Catholic Reporter, estimates that underground Catholics make up to 50% of China’s Catholic population. Other Chinese Catholics are affiliated with the state-recognized Catholic Patriotic Association. “They’re giving the flock over to the wolves. It’s an incredible betrayal,” Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, an 86-year-old retired bishop said. Father Bernardo Cervellera, editor of the Vatican journal Asia News, said there is mixed reaction among Chinese Catholics. “On one hand a little bit of joy, because there is a provisional agreement, but also much sadness because problems remain, including that many bishops have disappeared at the hands of the police.”
Source: The Christian Post
AMERICA ENDS VISAS FOR UNMARRIED SAME-SEX PARTNERS OF UN EMPLOYEES AND DIPLOMATS
The Trump administration has ended visas given for the unmarried same-sex partners of United Nations (UN) employees and diplomats. The new policy states that to be eligible for a G-4 visa, the partner of a UN official must provide proof of marriage. Since 2009, the UN has been informed that the Department of State does not issue a G-4 visa for opposite-sex domestic partners. The diplomatic note informs the UN that as of 1 October 2018, same sex domestic partners accompanying or seeking to join newly arrived UN officials must provide proof of marriage to be eligible for a G-4 visa or to seek a change into such status.
Current UN officials with domestic partners have until New Year’s Eve to provide proof of marriage or they will have to leave the United States within 30 days, or to remain in the country seek a change to “non-immigrant status.” To be eligible for a G-4 visa, the spouse of a UN official must not be a member of some other household and must reside regularly in the household of the principal. The new policy is seen as especially problematic for unmarried same-sex couples, as only about 30 countries currently legally recognize same-sex marriage. Akshaya Kumar, deputy United Nations director at Human Rights Watch, criticized the new policy in a recent blog post.
Kumar wrote “Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation.” In defence of the new visa policy, an unnamed White House official said that it promotes “fairness among all of our diplomats so that all spouses can be recognized as such and receive appropriate privileges and immunities for which they are eligible. In order for opposite sex couples to enjoy the benefits and privileges of a diplomatic spouse, they must be married,” explained the official. “The same is now true for same sex couples.”
The new visa policy comes after the Department of Homeland Security released a proposed rule that allows for denying green cards to immigrants seeking public benefits. The proposed rule would require “all aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of status to demonstrate that they have not received, are not currently receiving, nor are likely to receive, public benefits as defined in the proposed rule. Aliens who seek adjustment of status or a visa, must establish that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge, unless Congress has expressly exempted them from this ground of inadmissibility” noted the summary of the proposed rule.
Source: The Christian Post
EGYPT’S PERSECUTED COPTIC CHRISTIANS NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Egypt’s persecuted Coptic Christian minority has been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, the first ethno-religious group given such an honor. While the Norwegian Nobel Committee doesn’t release the names of nominees, the charity Coptic Orphans announced the nomination on their Facebook page noting that they were nominated for their refusal to retaliate against recent acts of anti-Christian violence. In a statement released in response to the news, Coptic Orphans noted the persecution that the Church has endured in Egypt since 2011, when the “Arab Spring” protests led to the overthrow of long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak.
“According to a 2018 report by Open Doors, Christians in Egypt face ‘unprecedented levels of persecution.’ Last year, according to the report, 128 Egyptian Christians were killed for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes,” the organization said. “Despite this, Coptic Christians have consistently refused to retaliate and continue to practice peaceful coexistence.” Over the last few years, Coptic Christians have been subjected to numerous brutal attacks and church bombings carried by Islamic extremists.
Earlier this year, a female Coptic journalist named Engy Magdy wrote an op-ed published by a Brooklyn-based Catholic news website documenting how life for Christian women in Egypt was “hell.” “To be a woman in a country where most of her people see women as a disgrace, and at best look at her from a sexual point of view, it is a heavy burden, but even worse when you are a Christian woman,” wrote Magdy. “Most Muslim women in Egypt wear a hijab and therefore, the others who do not wear it are most likely Coptic. This means that the Egyptian man thinks he has the right to harass her, simply because he sees her as a whore and a disbeliever.”
Source: The Christian Post
ONE THIRD OF UK CHRISTIANS HAVE NEVER PRAYED FOR A MIRACLE
A survey of 2002 adults by research company ComRes found 37% of UK believers have never asked God for a miracle. The survey concluded 59% of Christian have requested a miracle, while 29% said their prayer was answered.
Assessing the general UK population, it found 62% of people believe miracles are possible, with 43% saying they have prayed for one at least once. Young adults, aged 24 or younger, were more likely than their older peers to believe miracles are possible today. Graham Nicholls, director of a network of 1,200 evangelical churches, said: “The results are fascinating because they reflect opinions from both inside and outside the Church.
Nicholls said “It’s interesting that more than half the population hold the view that miracles are possible. “This suggests to me that people are not as closed to things happening outside our human experience which cannot be explained.” Among those who attend Church at least once a month, only 37% said they believed Biblical accounts of Jesus’ miracles. Graham Nicholls said “Within the Christian church there seem to be a confusing range of viewpoints. “This is a challenge to us who lead churches to explain clearly and persuasively the power of God.”
Source: Premier News Service
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY IS FAILING THROUGH LACK OF PRAYER
Sunday schools and other Christian youth ministries are having to close because team members do not pray enough and have not understood the needs of their young people, a new report claims. Scripture Union, which conducted a study of more than 1,500 ministries, said people would be “amazed” by how many leaders and volunteers set aside “no or minimal” time aside for prayer, and their ministries subsequently do not endure in the long-run. National director in England and Wales, Tim Hastie-Smith said prayer was “absolutely vital” and needed to be “at the centre” of church ministries in order for them to thrive.
He said: “It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that failure to engage in prayer and to understand ones local community is likely to see the death of a Christian community in the long-term.” Scripture Union sought to establish the keys to success when it comes to starting new missional groups for children and young people. The organisation identified prayer and taking time to understand and respond to local needs as “two of the most important factors” in determining success. Tim Hastie-Smith said teams who made prayer a top priority felt bolstered through God answering prayer and knowing that colleagues cared enough about them to pray for them the research found.
Source: Premier News Service