A textbook developed for use in Chinese schools has deliberately falsified a well-known Biblical story to make it seem like Jesus murdered a sinful woman.
The textbook, published by the government-run University of Electronic Science and Technology Press, rewrites the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery by asserting that Christ himself stoned the woman to death after the accusers had left the scene.
An extract from the book, as reported by UCA News, reads:
“The crowd wanted to stone the woman to death as per their law. But Jesus said, ‘Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.’ Hearing this, they slipped away one by one. When the crowd disappeared, Jesus stoned the sinner to death, saying, ‘I too am a sinner. But if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.’”
The original passage — found in John 7:53 - 8:11 — demonstrates Christ's kindness and grace towards the woman, reading:
"At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
According to UCA News, the textbook extract was uploaded by a Christian school teacher, who said in a Facebook post: "I want everyone to know that the Chinese Communist Party has always tried to distort the history of the Church, to slander our Church, and to make people hate our Church."
An unnamed priest told the outlet that manipulating the text so heinously was "against morality and the law".
"How can we still teach professional ethics with this book?" he asked. "It is a sad social phenomenon in mainland China."
Chinese persecution watchdog Bitter Winter explained more about the government's underpinning motives behind rewriting the passage:
"As told to Chinese students, the story teaches that the law and the Party are good and pure, and transcend the impure human beings who happen to represent them," the group noted. "Even if the officers are corrupted, their decision should be accepted—because, honest or corrupted, they represent the Party, and the Party’s law should never be questioned."
Some estimates indicate that around 100 million Christians now reside in China; the faith population has been exploding despite a relentless government-led crackdown which has seen scores of churches demolished and a number of prominent Christian leaders arrested.