Four Christian churches in China’s Sichuan province have been given an ultimatum and told they must join the official Communist government network or be shut down.
ChinaAid, which monitors the persecution of believers, reported on what it called a “massive crackdown” on unregistered churches in the southwestern province, explaining that the final warnings have recently been sent to the pastors, asking them to make a decision.
“A few churches’ pastors, who I have connections with, already received the government’s final warning, requiring that they should make a decision within two weeks: either join Three-Self Churches or be disbanded,” said one local area Christian, who wasn’t named.
The four churches in particular that need to decide whether to join the state-run Three-Self Churches or cease existing are Shangxi Church in Guangyuan, Guiyi Church in Mianyang, Xinguang Church and Joshua Church in Chengdu.
The churches have in the past been told that their worship venues are illegitimate and that the worship services they put together are illegal. The churches say they have been continuously harassed by police officers and local security authorities, who have been trying to prevent them from holding services.
Back in September, ChinaAid's Bob Fu told a House hearing in Washington, D.C., that the state-sanctioned denominations in China are looking to "Sincize" Christianity.
"The heart and soul of Christianity's Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology," he said, noting that the government will even “re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries."
"There are outlines that the new Bible should not look westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism," the ChinaAid founder told The Christian Post after the hearing. "The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it."
Fu said that the plan includes "incorporating the Chinese elements into church worship services, hymns and songs, clergy attire, and the architectural style of church buildings."
"This includes 'editing and publishing worship songs with Chinese characteristics and promoting the Sinicization of worship music,' using uniquely Chinese art forms, such as Chinese painting, calligraphy, inscription, and paper-cutting to express the Christian faith,'" described to CP.
"[It's also] encouraging churches to blend in style with Chinese architecture to local architectural style."
Over the past few months, Christian activists have posted video clips of Communist officials burning copies of the Bible in Henan and cutting down crosses from church rooftops.
Authorities also began forcing Christian students to sign papers where they reject their faith, or else be faced with losing welfare benefits and being expelled from school.
"The international community should be alarmed and outraged for this blatant violation of freedom of religion and belief," Fu urged.