China to Conduct ‘Secretive’ Conference Regarding Christianity

ICC NOTE: Concerns have been raise in China as news of a secretive conference to examine the future of Christianity in China is scheduled to take place in Beijing. The Communist Party of China likely feels threatened by the rapid growth in Christianity within her borders prompting a potential crackdown on local communities. Some believe it will not be more church closures but new methods in ‘controlling’ and managing churches. The greatest fear of the Communist Party is opposition to the power and control of the party on Chinese society. Since Christianity is opposed to the staunch loyalties and secularized/atheistic beliefs of Chinese communism, it is no wonder Preside Xi and others are fearful of what may be. 

11/17/2015 China (The Guardian) – A secretive conference to examine the future of Christianity in China is due to take place in Beijing this week amid rapid growth of the religion, which many believe has more Chinese adherents than the 87-million member Communist party.

An official at the government-controlled Institute of World Religions, which is helping to organise the conclave, declined to provide details of its agenda.

But Yang Fenggang, director of Purdue University’s centre on religion and Chinese society, said many Chinese Christians believed the conference was part of a government push to create a more “submissive” church. “It is clear that the top leaders feel unease with Christianity,” he said.

One underground pastor said officials would consider ways to “strengthen management” of what is a tightly controlled church. “I don’t believe the government will close the church but I do believe they want to manage it,” said the pastor, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I don’t think they will control the doctrine. The government has no interest in what you preach. They are just worried about if you are against the party.”

The conference, The Sinicisation of Christianity, is expected to be attended by religious affairs officials, academics and members of China’s official church.

This summer the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, launched an unprecedented crackdown on human rights lawyers as part of a broader offensive against any perceived threat to the Communist party’s six-decade monopoly on power.

Zhang Kai, a Christian human rights lawyer who fought against a Communist party campaign to remove crosses from more than 1,200 churches in Zhejiang in 2013, was seized by security agents and taken into custody in August.

“[Zhang] felt the persecution of the churches was getting worse,” said Terry Halliday, a professor at the American Bar Foundation who has known Zhang for almost a decade. “His view was that [the crosses campaign] was a provocation against religion.”

Experts and religious leaders say the chill that has descended on China’s Christian community is not the result of doctrinal matters but rather Beijing’s fear that the rapidly growing church could become a political threat. “This isn’t really about religion, it’s about loyalty and power,” said Eva Pils, a human rights expert from King’s College London who has also met Zhang.

During the chaos of the cultural Revolution, places of worship across China were closed or ransacked as Chairman Mao’s Red Guards ran riot. More recently, Pils said, the church had been given greater breathing space, partly in order to avoid international censure. “For years there was a sense that Christianity was less likely to be targeted in this way … partly because it was very well understood that … there was a higher political cost to persecuting them,” she said.

(Full Article) 

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