Leaders of China’s state-controlled official ‘Three-Self churches’ have declared their “major task” of the next few years is to “change the face of world Christianity” by exporting a communist version of the faith.
The vision was acclaimed at a “Training Meeting for Key Pastors of the Northeast China Christian Region” that was held late last month in Changchun, Jilin province, according to religious liberty web magazine, Bitter Winter.
The respected Italy-based resource reports that the conference was broadcast nationwide and covered by national Chinese media.
“Slowly but surely Three-Self churches are being transformed into ideological indoctrination centres for Xi-Jinping-style Communism”, writes author Zhang Chunhua, “with the tiny veneer of Christianity becoming tinier every year and every day”, he says.
According to Bitter Winter, the plan of China’s Communist Party (the CCP) is to ‘export internationally’ what it calls “Sinicized” Protestant Christianity, which is a version of the faith the CCP insists is followed by pastors of the official Three-Self Church.
A report on the website of the China Christian Council, which fronts the Protestant Three-Self church, says Pastor Wu Wei, its President, told the conference: “The Sinicization of Christianity is an important embodiment and expression of the adaptation of Christianity to socialist society.”
In his reflection, Zhang Chunhua (not his real name) comments “Sinicization” does not mean adopting a Chinese style, language, and aesthetics, it means adopting the style, language or ideology of the CCP.”
The magazine reports that the goal is part of the project of CCP leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is to promote “its brand of Communism throughout the world, particularly in developing countries”.
Keynote speeches at the event were delivered by Pastor Shan Weixiang, Vice President and Chief Executive of the China Christian Council, and Pastor Kan Baoping, Vice Chairman of China Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee, according to Bitter Winter.
To what the report describes as “the thunderous applause of the regional Three-Self leaders in the audience”, Pastor Kan went on to urge them to promote “the successful experience of the Sinicization of Christianity,” which is “Christianity adapted to a Socialist society,” into “a great contribution made by Chinese Christianity to world Christianity.”
Reflecting further, Zhang Chunhua writes: “Chinese diplomacy and academia are mobilized to insist that “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “Xi Jinping Thought” work much better than Western-style democracy.”
“Whether “world Christianity” is ready to change its Christian face into one worshipping Communism and Xi Jinping is a question the conference did not really address”, Bitter Winter states, “However, we should not believe the CCP is simply dreaming”.