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12/24/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – In a bizarre statement of Christmas tidings released yesterday, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) has tried to spread Christmas cheer by reminding Christians to focus on what truly matters – the success of the Chinese nation and its leader. 

This statement comes after President Xi Jinping led the SARA’s National Conference on Religious Work earlier this month, a conference to reaffirm the teachings of the Chinese church. SARA has affirmed that this Christmas season there is no better time to remind Chinese believers of the need for “loving the party [CCP], loving the country, and loving socialism. 

Religion in China is heavily regulated by the CCP’s State Administration of Religious Affairs, which has the sole authority to sanction acceptable religion and practices in China. Sanctioned religions in China are ordained through five organizations: the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, the Three-Self Patriotic Christian Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Through these approved religious groups, China enforces a Sinicized version of faith that puts the national interests of China at the heart of all believer’s values. Chinese Christians must adhere to strict management of religion, support the country’s growth with a proactive spirit, and always guide people to enhance their understanding of the great motherland, the Chinese nation, and the CCP.  

To deviate from the CCP’s tenets of faith puts Chinese believers at risk of being thought involved in an “evil cult,” a phrase used often to discourage the free practice of faith. Chinese Christians are regularly harassed by Chinese police, many arrested. Others have been considered threats to national security in China, as their faith is a vulnerability to western and foreign influence. Regardless, Christians will gather this season knowing that the government might come for them at any time, a risk they are willing to take to celebrate their birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. 

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