An 11-minute video called "What If Atheism Is a Religion?" released by China's Communist Youth League has been going viral on social media. It argues that humans, not God, saved the world.
The video in question, released earlier in May on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, features Japanese style comics and satire to pull young viewers in, International Christian Concern reported on Wednesday.
The conversations in the video focus on several questions, such as "If atheism is a religion, who will be the icons?" and "Who saved the world, God or the people?" as reported by The Diplomat.
To answer the second question, an atheist "pastor" tells a young man about the great philosophers and scientists in human history, such as Galileo Galilei, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and others, and explains it is their achievements that saved the world.
As an example, the atheist argues that Willis Carrier, who invented the modern day air conditioner, saved the world from "ending up in hot hell."
When the young man in the sketch asks, "Other religions always curse us atheists to go to various hells. Now since we atheists also have formed a religion, shall we curse them back?" The fake pastor replies:
"Our atheist religion is only a joke in the video, but we atheists will never curse anyone, despite other religious people holding prejudice against us in reality."
As the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom pointed out in its 2017 annual report, more than half of China's nearly 1.4 billion population is unaffiliated with any religion or belief.
ICC, which reports on religious persecution in China, insisted that despite the popularity of the Communist Youth League's video, it should not be taken as a sign that atheism is on the rise in the country.
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"Christianity is growing at exponential rates in China and there are more believers than ever now," ICC noted.
"In addition, the fact that the video portrays atheism as a religion in itself could be a sign that China's government sees it is losing the battle against religion, and may represent a new approach to to counteracting Christianity's growth."
Communist authorities have been engaging in a widespread crackdown against Christians in recent years, in the form of church cross rooftop demolitions, and arrests of underground pastors and worshipers for gathering to pray.
China Aid warned in January that throughout 2016, Chinese officials engaged in activities to force all religions to "surrender to the authority and leadership of the Chinese Community Party."
"[W]e have good reasons to worry that the major religions in China, especially house churches and underground Catholic and Protestant churches, will suffer the most unprecedented suppression under the name of the 'transforming into the Communist Party of China' since the Cultural Revolution," the persecution watchdog said.
Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, told The Christian Post last year that government's main ambition is to curb the growth of Christians.
"The top leadership is very increasingly worried about the rapid growth of Christian faith and their public presence, and their social influence," Fu told CP at the time. "It is a political fear for the Communist Party, as the number of Christians in the country far outnumbers the members of the Party."