The Chinese government is demanding that pastors preach state propaganda before they can open their churches.
According to Bitter Winter, pastors in the city of Quanzhou were recently ordered to incorporate President Xi Jinping’s recent statements on reducing food waste into their sermons. Preaching Xi’s remarks are a requirement to reopen churches.
Churches in this area of China have been closed for the past six months as the country attempts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The government threatened to close any church that refused to hold these activities,” said one preacher.
The pastors are all part of the Three-Self Church, a protestant church controlled by the atheist Chinese state. Chinese Christians are only allowed to worship as members of either the Three-Self Church or the state-owned Patriotic Catholic Association.
Directives given to preachers in recent months from the Three-Self Church have included orders to celebrate Communist Party achievements and condemn Western countries to their congregations.
“The Religious Affairs Bureau forced us to preach about this and ordered us to integrate aspects of traditional Chinese culture and the Constitution into our sermons,” a Three-Self church preacher said.
“Churches that disobeyed were threatened to be closed, and congregations suppressed.”
Rather than a church, the Three-Self Church officially sees itself as part of the Chinese state.
In recent months China has undertaken a campaign to remove religious material and symbols. that has not been approved by Communist Party censors. As part of China’s campaign to “sinicize” Christianty, hundreds of crosses have been removed from churches.
The constant propaganda and harassment is reportedly discouraging some Chinese Christians, leaving many fearful to practice publicly.
“We were looking forward to listening to sermons after the church was reopened following a long break,” one Chinese Christian said.
“But all of them praise Xi Jinping. Isn’t this Communist Party faith? If this goes on, what’s the point of our religion?”