by WorldTribune Staff, April 6, 2018
China has removed the Bible and other Christian books from online bookstores as part of what observers say is President Xi Jinping’s demand that all religions in the country be “Sinicized.”
To be “Sinicized,” the Bible would have to be rendered compatible with the beliefs and programs of the Chinese Communist ideology and purged of Western influence and control, Breitbart News noted in an April 4 report.
The Marxist-Leninist ideology denies the existence of God.
Last week, China announced its effort to enhance “Chinese-style Christianity” by re-interpreting and re-translating the Bible.
The announcement came in a “white paper” on “religious freedom,” titled “Principles for Promoting the Chinese Christianity in China for the Next Five Years (2018-2022),” which was launched in Nanjing on March 28, two days before bibles started disappearing from websites, the Breitbart report said.
The Bible is not officially approved by the Chinese government for publication and therefore is technically an illegal publication that cannot be sold and can only be circulated in churches.
China “manages religious affairs in accordance with the law, adheres to the principle of independence and self-management, actively guides religions to adapt to the socialist society, and unites religious believers and non-believers to the greatest extent,” the white paper stated.
Breitbart noted that “The keyword search for ‘bible’ on the Chinese social media platform Weibo saw a massive spike on March 31, followed by a sharp nose dive to zero on April 1, spawning suspicions that the government had censored the word.”
At the same time, coinciding with the publication of the white paper, users of Chinese social media starting observing that Bibles were vanishing from e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba’s Taobao, Jingdong, Amazon China and DangDang.com – China’s biggest online bookstore. Searches for the bible at online shops began turning up “no results,” the report said.
Some on social media have posted screenshots of their chats with bookshop owners who said they were forced to take the Bible off their shelves.
Zhang Yijiong, the leader of the United Front Work Department (UFWD), which oversees religion in China, said at the October Chinese Communist Party Congress that any religious faith must subscribe to the country’s “socialist core values.”
Zhang said the party had a long way to go to “Sinicize” religion, which required preventing anyone from “taking advantage of religion to harm national security” and “endangering national unity.”
On Feb. 1, Zhang’s agency issued a series of regulations overhauling religious practice in the officially atheist country.
The new norms were described in one report as consciously intended to “annihilate underground communities” and “suffocate official communities.” Penalties for non-conformance include the imposition of massive fines for persons associated with underground religious communities not authorized by the state.
The regulations also mandate that no one under 18 years of age is allowed to enter a church building, part of what analysts said was an effort to separate youth from Christian education and practice.