Pastors' conference heralds CCP plan to 'change the face of world Christianity': report

Two men look at St Joseph's Church, also known as Wangfujing Catholic Church, in Beijing on October 22, 2020, the day a secretive 2018 agreement between Beijing and the Vatican was renewed for another two years. | GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Is the Chinese Communist Party ready to export its highly centralized version of Protestant Christianity to the rest of the world?

That's the gist of a report from religious liberty and human rights magazine Bitter Winter stating a conference held last month with state-aligned religious leaders declared the CCP's intent to "change the face of world Christianity."

According to the report, the "Training Meeting for Key Pastors of the Northeast China Christian Region" held June 27-30 in the northeast Jilin province was the launch of a "grandiose" plan from Chinese President Xi Jinping and the CCP.

As part of the nationally-broadcast conference, Pastor Kan Baoping of the China Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and Pastor Shan Weixiang of the China Christian Council were reportedly among the speakers at the conference.

In his speech centered on "Christianity adapted to a socialist society," Kan predicted the Three-Self Movement would help amplify the message of "the successful experience of the Sinicization of Christianity."

"We will change the face of world Christianity," Pastor Kan reportedly told the conference.

While the term "sinicization" has been used by CCP authorities to describe bringing Christian groups in line with cultural and historical Chinese traditions, critics argue that the "fundamental purpose of the Sinicization of Christianity is to transform and alienate Christianity."

By doing so, according to the human rights group ChinaAid, the CCP "hopes to reduce Christianity to the point that it operates as a tool, turning it into 'Pseudo-Christianity.'"

In December 2022, Kan and other leaders of the Three-Self Movement marked the death of Jiang Zemin, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1989 to 2002. 

Kan reportedly credited Jiang with starting the "Sinicization of Christianity" and doing "a good job in religious work."

But religious freedom advocates have warned for years that the sinicization effort also involves rewriting the Bible into a new CCP-friendly translation.

According to a 2020 oreport from The Wall Street Journal, a high-level meeting among members of the CCP's Politburo Standing Committee was held at the height of the pandemic with scholars and religious figures focused on an effort to "make accurate and authoritative interpretations of classical doctrines to keep pace with the times."

The effort comes as Chinese Christianity has exploded from roughly 4 million adherents in the 1950s to over 60 million as of 2020. The Chinese government only recognizes five official religions that submit to its influence. Authorities regularly crack down on unauthorized religious groups and house churches. 

China has also worked to align itself with the seat of power in Catholicism after signing an agreement with the Vatican in 2018 to give the Communist government a role in appointing bishops to consolidate the Catholic Church in China.

Earlier this year, China Aid reported in its 2022 persecution report the CCP intensified persecution of churches and Christians across mainland China leading up to the 20th Party Congress in 2022, with more house church leaders facing "fraud" charges and stricter censorship of online religious content.

According to the report, several house church pastors and elders in China were sent to jail, including Pastor Hao Zhiwei from Ezhou House Church in Hubei province, who was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In World