An interesting article appeared in the official state-run Chinese news outlet The Global Times today concerning religious freedom in China. There are currently millions of Christians in China, and the faith is growing despite non-recognition from the government. President Xi Jinping addressed the issue at last Spring's annual Party Congress.
Xi stated that "Religious affairs carry a special importance to the work of our party. I call upon the Party authorities to improve religious work in line with law."
Xi's proclamation is a radical departure from the tenuous relationship between Christianity and the Chinese Government. When the Communists assumed control over China in 1949, Christianity was driven underground; churches were closed and Believers worshipped in 'House Churches' or informal assemblies. The Maoist Era laws are still in effect. Although not enforced on a national level, some local jurisdictions still take a hardline approach.
Liu Ping, Director of the Beijing Pu Shi Institute for Social Sciences, issued a report in response to Xi's appeal. His conclusion was that China must officially abandon its suspicion of Christian assemblies and grant them full legal status.
"The religious management model that China has been using for decades is the 'state-control model' which follows the example of the Soviet Union. But this obsolete mindset cannot meet the diverse spiritual needs of a modern society." Liu stated. "Many Chinese officials still don't have a clear understanding of religion; and many of the old concepts lead them to fear and distrust religious beliefs as a source of trouble. And the way they manage religions can't meet the demands of the pace of social development."
Liu's proposal is that the underground churches be offered an opportunity to register as legal religious entities; with exemptions from the background checks and internal investigations currently required.
"The actual situation is that if these House Churches are able to obtain legal status, they would particularly cherish such recognition; and would become a model of propriety and thus resist any propensity to employ Christianity as a cover for clandestine political activities." Liu concluded. "Once they obtain official recognition, religious bodies could contribute to social and charitable services and become a positive force for social stability."
The Chinese Congress is currently debating Liu's proposal, and the prediction is that they authorize pilot programs in selected cities.
As China is striving to integrate Christianity into its social mainstream, we in the Prozac Nation hear different positions from our own political leadership. The Republican Party, whose candidate sees nothing wrong with the Media Cartels publishing nude photos of his wife, has adopted a win-at-all-costs philosophy. Their leadership tells us that is time to abandon all this ideological conservativism and forget about their adherence to upholding traditional values.
And then the Democratic Party adopted into their platform positions what they rather ominously call a progressive notion of religious freedom. Which stripped of the characteristic Leftist platitudes simply means that the Democrats intend to uphold religious freedom wherever it does not conflict with their Cultural Marxist ideology. As Hilary Clinton stated in a pro-abortion speech last year, "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and cultural biases have to be changed".
So America---the first country to legalize freedom of worship and the right of conscience may soon find itself behind Communist China in its tolerance of traditional Christianity. Either way, the future of the Christian Faith is beginning to look rather dim in North America, while the Sun of Righteousness appears to be rising fast in the East.