China: New patriotic law turns church service into praise for communist party

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China has passed a “Patriotic Education Law,” and in compliance with government requirements, an officially recognized church in Northeast

Silhouettes of People Holding the Flag of China

China transformed a worship service on Sunday into praise for the party and the country. In the name of using literature and arts performances to promote excellent traditional culture in churches, the church featured a song titled “Ode to the Motherland,” composed by one of the church’s pastors. It also brought together various art groups to celebrate the Communist Party of China and its rule over the country.

According to the Gospel Times, a Chinese website that has long reported on the activities of officially recognized churches, on November 19, a Sunday morning, on the eve of the implementation of the “Patriotic Education Law,” the Liaozhong District Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Christian Council in Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, China, held a sermon and praise gathering at the Liaozhong Christian Church. The event was themed “The Practice of the Sinicization of Religion, Introduction of Excellent Traditional Culture into the Church, Calligraphy and Painting, Literature and Art Performances.”

The newly enacted “Patriotic Education Law” was passed on October 24 in China’s “decorative” legislative body, the National People’s Congress. It will come into effect from New Year’s Day next year (2024). This law formally includes Chinese youth and children, Chinese citizens, residents of the former British colony Hong Kong, the former Portuguese colony Macao, individuals in Taiwan independent of the Chinese Communist Party, and even overseas Chinese, among others, as subjects of patriotic education. The law aims to inherit and promote the spirit of patriotism, widely seen as a further consolidation of the personality cult around leader Xi Jinping and the survival of the regime.

The report, citing the usual political rhetoric frequently employed by the authorities, stated that the purpose of that Sunday gathering was “to adhere to the direction and practice of the sinicization of Christianity, guided by the core socialist values; to deeply explore the doctrines that are conducive to social harmony, and provide interpretations of doctrines that align with sinicization.”

The performance on that Sunday was led by Pastor Ren Chuanyu of the church, with prayers by Pastor Wang Haisheng and testimony by Pastor Shi Wei, president of the Shenyang Christian Council.

In his speech, Ren Chuanyu preached that Christianity should adhere to the direction of sinicization, love the country, love the church, glorify God, and benefit people.

This gathering invited calligraphers, artists, musicians, government employees, and other officials from Shenyang City to participate. The city’s cultural center, Chinese orchestra, literature, and arts groups performed in the church. Pastor Ren Chuanyu wrote the lyrics for “Ode to the Motherland” and presented a dance performance titled “The Sons and Daughters of the Liao River Follow the Party.”

The performance was filled with sentiments of the Chinese revolution, during which the banner of “The Chinese Workers ’and Peasants’ Red Army” was held up. The performers were dressed in outfits of the Red Army; they acted out the story of the Long March of the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, which spanned 25,000 Li (7,767 miles).

According to the report, through the harmonious cooperation and close exchange of the Liaozhong District Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Christian Council with the relevant arts groups, the sinicization of Christianity and patriotic education was brought into the church, and allowed the congregation to be well educated on those matter. — China Aid