China tightens grip on church with ‘Patriotic Education Law’

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The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) new controversial Patriotic Education Law came into force on January 1 and party officials reviewed the new guidelines with church leaders. 

The CCP met with the five authorized state religions – China Buddhist Association, China Daoist Association, China Islamic Association, Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (Protestant) – to show how religious groups can adhere to the far-reaching Patriotic Education Law. Communist ideology and the Sinicization of religion in China dominate the new law. The CCP states in the guidelines to religions that the state is greater than religion, and the state law is greater than religious rules 

Bitter Winter magazine has published an English translation of the guidelines that these state-controlled religions must now follow. Some of the most alarming statements from the guidelines include: 

  • Our country’s religious circles must learn, think, and practice Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, especially General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on religious work, 
  • Adhere to the principles of patriotism, love for the party and love for socialism. Strengthen patriotic education and deeply understand that without the Chinese Communist Party, there would be no New China.  
  • Persist in filling up our country’s religion with excellent traditional Chinese culture. 

The Patriotic Education Law was developed by the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department. The law also says that Taiwan is part of China and that all Chinese people outside of China should follow the provisions of the new law. Originally, the law was to be applied to Chinese schools. The updated version in October 2023, however, calls for all sectors of Chinese society to obey this law.  

Christians will continue to face increased persecution as this contentious law is applied, especially by the five main CCP controlled religious associations. Bitter Winter reported on a last-minute addition to the law that adds greater pressure on religious people, with Article 21 reinforcing the idea that “religious clergy and believers” should also mobilize and cooperate in the propaganda effort and mentions specific content such as “promoting core socialist values and promote the construction of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics.”International Christian Concern