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Linfen Church Demolition

The Linfen Church Demolition
What We Know and What We Don’t Know
By Joann Pittman ⋅ Jan 15, 2018 ⋅ Topic: Church and State

Security officials demolished the Jindeng Tai Church building in the coal-mining city of Linfen, Shanxi province. It didn’t take long for the news and shocking pictures of the destruction to make its way into the news worldwide.

The Guardian posted a video of the demolition:

Here are some things we know and don’t know about the church and the incident.

What We Know

The name of the church that was demolished is Jindeng Tai (金灯台), which translates “Golden Lampstand.” It is an unregistered church, which means that it is not affiliated with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the China Christian Council. Being unregistered means that it has no legal status, even though it claims to have 50,000 members, or followers. It is led by husband/wife pastors Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli, who started the church in 1992.

This is not the first time the church has had a run-in with the authorities. Andrew Kaiser, in his book about the history of Christian missions in China, The Rushing on of the Purposes of God, writes:

“In the post-Olympic years, however, state resistance to the increasingly vocal and confident Christian community became more and more common.  The September 2009 detention and imprisonment of several pastors at Fushan and Golden Lampstand (Jin Dengtai) churches from the unregistered Linfen Church garnered international attention. The violence of the confrontations, with supposedly hundreds of thugs representing the security forces beating worshipers and destroying property at both sites, was particularly egregious. Nevertheless, the buildings had not received construction approval and the fifty-thousand member church was not legally registered, and so with little or no due process the church leaders received long sentences. (p. 251)”

Local authorities claim that demolition is part of a campaign against “illegal buildings,” and that the church never secured the necessary permits to build.

What We Don’t Know

We don’t know what triggered the incident at this time. Campaigns against illegal structures are common in China so it is certainly possible that this church and its building are caught up in that.

It is also possible that, given the tighter religious regulations that are scheduled to go into effect on February 1, officials (illegal structure campaign or not) felt emboldened to go after the church. Or perhaps it’s a combination of both.

While this may not be a popular thing to say, we probably won’t know which of those two contexts and factors is the main driver of this incident. I suspect it is a combination of both.

At “ChinaSource” we will continue to monitor the situation in China as these new regulations begin to take effect, and pray for our brothers and sisters there who face an increasingly tight environment.

Image credit: Screen shot of the video published by The Guardian supplied by ChinaAid.

Joann Pittman
Joann Pittman is Senior Vice President of ChinaSource. She is the editor of ZGBriefs and Chinese Church Voices, as well as a regular contributor to ChinaSource publications. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and most recently,… View Full Bio

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China’s Forced Abortions

Forced Abortions Continue in China Under “Two-Child Policy.”’

The Congressional Executive Commission on China has released its 2017 Report, which contains documentation of continued “forced abortion” under China’s Two-Child Policy.

“Chinese authorities continue to actively promote and implement coercive population planning policies that violate international standards,” the Congressional Report declares in its section titled “Population Control.”

The two-child policy regulations “include provisions that require couples to be married to have children and limit them to bearing two children,” with coercive population control at the heart of enforcement of the new regulations, it states.

“Officials continue to enforce compliance with population planning targets using methods including heavy fines, job termination, arbitrary detention, and coerced abortion,” the report states.

Some provincial-level Chinese population planning rules continue to explicitly instruct officials to carry out abortions, often referred to as “remedial measure” for “out-of-plan” illegal pregnancies, with some provinces urging functionaries to “use all means necessary” in enforcing the regulations.

When China announced that it was “abandoning” its draconian one-child policy in 2015, the claim was met with skepticism among critics, who contended that the move substantially changed nothing, since the communist government still asserts “absolute control” over families and will continue to “enforce” its will with coercion.

Critics such as Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, have said that the new Congressional Report vindicates their warnings at the time. Littlejohn told Breitbart News: “Under the Two-Child Policy, single women are still forcibly aborted, as are third children.”

Back in 2015, Littlejohn remarked that any mention of human rights was “noticeably absent” from the Communist party’s announcement. “Even though it will now allow all couples to have a second child, China has not promised to end forced abortion, forced sterilization, or forced contraception, she said.

The news media at the time bought into the story that China had “abandoned” or “scrapped” its One-Child Policy, a depiction that Littlejohn called “demonstrably false.”

The new report also states that the sex ratio at birth reported by the Chinese government themselves indicates that the selective abortion of “baby girls” continues unabated under the new policy.

Although Chinese authorities continue to officially frown on sex-selective abortion, “some people reportedly continue the practice in response to government imposed birth limits and in keeping with a traditional cultural preference for sons,” the report declares.

According to a National Bureau of Statistics Report, the sex ratio at birth in 2015 was 113.5 males born for every 100 females born, a disproportion that could only be achieved through “sex-selective” abortion.

Years of such sex-selective “favoring” of boys has resulted in an estimated 33 to 37 million more males living in China than females.

This imbalance is fueling sex trafficking from multiple nations into China “for forced marriage or commercial sexual exploitation” to help fill the gender gap.

“China’s Two-Child Policy continues the human rights abuses and gender-based violence of the One-Child Policy,” Littlejohn stated, while noting that “China remains firmly on the path to demographic disaster” due to its dangerously low birthrate.

China “should be offering incentives for couples to have babies, not forcibly aborting ‘illegal’ pregnancies,” Littlejohn added.

Chinese Mother Forced Into Abortion
Stop Forced Abortion! An Open Letter to Xi and Obama
The Consequences of Forced Abortions
Corpse Brides, Forced Abortions

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Year of the Fire Dog

A word of advice to progressives: when you see angels with trumpets…do not think “apocalypse.” Rather think “Hallelujah.”

It is , after all, the year of the TRUMP-et.

2018 is also the “Year of the Dog” in the Chinese New Year which begins on February. And guess who is a big “fire” Dog: Donald Trump! And that’s a good thing.

Chinese play tribute to The Donald in the Year of the Dog with this giant statue

Born in 1946, Donald Trump was born in the year of the Dog—the “Fire Dog” to be specific—according to the Chinese horoscope.

It is believed that the “Fire Dog” is naturally charismatic and easily attracts attention.

Ya’ think?

At the beginning of 2017 Chinese astrologers reading President Trump’s “Rooster Year Four Pillars” chart determined him to be an Earth person and predicted that he would be doing things differently.

As the Rooster carries a metal element which represents expression and creativity they also predicted that Trump, being an Earth persona, might have a year of “sharp” words.

Again, ya’ think?

As far as 2018 goes, the anniversary year of an individual’s “birth” sign is said to bring good “fortune so I predict a whole lot more WINNING! for Donald Trump and America.

All I can say is “Hallelujah!” And have a “blessed” Happy New Year.

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New Year Prayer

A Prayer to Keep God First This New Year
By Debbie McDaniel

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Dear God,

Thank you that you make all things new. Thank you for all that you’ve allowed into our lives this past year, the good along with the hard things, which have reminded us how much we need you and rely on your presence filling us every single day.

We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of this New Year. We ask that you will guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply desire you above all else. We ask that you will open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. We ask that you would help us release our grip on the things to which you’ve said “no,” “not yet,” or “wait.” We ask for help to pursue you first, above every dream and desire you’ve put within our hearts.

We ask for your wisdom, for your strength and power to be constantly present within us. We pray you would make us strong and courageous for the road ahead. Give us ability beyond what we feel able, let your gifts flow freely through us, so that you would be honored by our lives, and others would be drawn to you.

We pray that you’d keep us far from the snares and traps of temptations. That you would whisper in our ear when we need to run, and whisper in our heart when we need to stand our ground.

We pray for your protection over our families and friends. We ask for your hand to cover us and keep us distanced from the evil intent of the enemy; that you would be a barrier to surround us, that we’d be safe in your hands. We pray that you would give us discernment and insight beyond our years, to understand your will, hear your voice, and know your ways.

We ask that you would keep our footsteps firm, on solid ground, helping us to be consistent and faithful. Give us supernatural endurance to stay the course, not swerving to the right or to the left, or being too easily distracted by other things that would seek to call us away from a close walk with you.

Forgive us for the times we have worked so hard to be self-sufficient, forgetting our need for you, living independent of your spirit. Forgive us for letting fear and worry control our minds, and for allowing pride and selfishness wreak havoc over our lives. Forgive us for not following your ways and for living distant from your presence.

We confess our need for you…fresh…new…again. We ask that you make all things new, in our hearts, in our minds, in our lives, for this coming year. We pray for your refreshing over us.

Keep your words of truth planted firm within us, help us to keep focused on what is pure and right, give us the power to be obedient to your word. And when the enemy reminds us where we have been, hissing his lies and attacks our way, we trust that your voice speaks louder and stronger, as you remind us we are safe with you and your purposes and plans will not fail. We ask that you will be our defense and rear guard, keeping our way clear, removing the obstacles, and covering the pitfalls. Lord, lead us on your level ground.

We ask that you would provide for our needs, we ask for your grace and favor. We pray for your blessings to cover us, we pray that you would help us to prosper and make every plan that you have birthed in our heart to succeed. We pray that others would take notice of your goodness and could not help but to say, “These are the ones that the Lord has blessed.”

Help us to be known as great givers, help us to be generous and kind, help us to look to the needs of others and not be consumed by only our own. May we be lovers of truth, may the fruits of your spirit be evident in our lives – your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Shine your light in us, through us, over us. May we make a difference in this world, for your glory and purposes. Set you way before us. May all your plans succeed. We may reflect your peace and hope to a world that so desperately needs your presence and healing.

To you be glory and honor, in this New Year, and forever.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

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Chinese Catholic Church

The Chinese Communist party has proclaimed the independence of the nationalized Catholic church from Rome, insisting that the church adhere to a program of “self-governance.”

In a statement released after this week’s National Congress of Chinese Catholic Representatives in Beijing, participants reasserted the autonomy of the Chinese Catholic Church from Rome.

“Sticking to the principle of independence and self-governance as well as a system of national congresses embodies the self-esteem and confidence of the Catholic Church in China. They are the foundation of the church’s existence,” the statement read.

Under the guise of local church “autonomy,” Beijing has sought greater control over the Catholic Church in China, insisting that bishops be named by the local Chinese Catholic community under the auspices of the Communist party. It has also refused to acknowledge the authority of the Pope in ecclesiastical decisions, claiming that as head of a foreign state, the Pope has no right to interfere in local matters.

The Catholic Church in China has been split into underground and open communities since 1958, with the latter going by the title of the Patriotic Catholic Association under immediate control of the Communist party. A Vatican document of 1988 barred Roman Catholics from participating in the sacraments of the Patriotic Church, since the association “had broken all relationships with the pope” and would be “under the direct control of the government.”

The latest power play follows on a progressive assertion of state control over religious bodies under the regime of President Xi Jinping. As Beijing continues to tighten its grip on religious practice, however, more and more Christians are opting out of the official, state-recognized church and heading underground.

Currently, some six million Catholics have refused to join churches recognized by the Communist party and have chosen to worship in illegal “house churches,” where they can remain loyal to the Vatican.

For many Chinese Catholics faithful to Rome, this meeting of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Chinese Bishops Conference resembles a “a staged theatrical representation” more than a true assembly of a community of faith.

In the meeting, senior Communist party leader Yu Zhengsheng told participants that Catholics should “run their church independently and better integrate it into society.”

“The church should adhere to the principles of self-administration, run religious affairs independently and guide believers to adhere to the Sinicization path of the religion,” he said, referring to a Chinese identity free of western influence.

Yu’s words were echoed by Patriotic Bishop Ma Yinglin, who said in his closing speech that the Chinese Catholic Church will stick to its Sinicization path, adapt to the socialist society and align itself closely with the Communist Party of China with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core.

Bishop Ma, who was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2006, was re-elected as president of the Bishops Conference of Catholic Church of China.

Earlier, Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), said that the Chinese church should “lead Catholic personnel and followers in line with the CPC [Communist Party of China] Central Committee, with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the core.”

Although the Chinese Communist party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now surpassed by an estimated 100 million Christians in China, which helps explain Beijing’s intense crackdown on Christian groups.

Christianity is growing so fast in China that some predict that it will be the most Christian nation in the world in only another 15 years.

The greatest growth is occurring in unofficial Protestant “house churches” and in the underground Catholic church, outside the official state-sanctioned churches considered subservient to the Communist party.

 

Catholic Churches in China Should Be Independent of Vatican
Catholic in China Catholic in China
China increases its crackdown on Catholics
Catholic Church in China
Catholics are deeply disturbed that the Vatican is cozying up to China’s repressive regime
Catholicism in China Today
China’s Catholics

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China’s Day of Shame

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

China’s state newspaper the Global Times reported Wednesday that Communist Party officials in some municipalities have banned members from “celebrating” Christmas in yet another way to fight an alleged “cultural invasion” of China by the West.

The article notes that one chapter of the China Communist Youth League (CCYL) has labeled Christmas “China’s Day of Shame.”

The piece highlights the work of communist officials in Hengyang City in Hunan province, where they have decreed that party members “resist the rampant Western festival.” The order also bans any member of the Communist Party from celebrating Christmas “so as to build a good image of Party officials.”

The CCYL has also generally targeted Christmas as a blight upon the nation, publishing posts on its official social media that state that “Christmas is China’s day of shame”and good communists reject “cultural invasion.”

Youth Leagues at universities — where students may be most open to experiencing different cultures — have also ramped up their “attacks” on Christmas this year.

The UK Telegraph reports that the CCYL of Shenyang Pharmaceutical University posted notices this month around campus banning any activity that could be interpreted as a celebration of Christmas “in order to guide the youth league members in building cultural confidence and resisting the corrosion caused by Western religious culture.”

The group also reportedly hung up banners boasting slogans like “Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch Western holidays” and “Resist the expansion of Western culture.”

The persecution and attempt to “eliminate” Christianity from China has become a growing campaign under Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who emphasizes “socialism with Chinese characteristics” as the dominant ideology — and, arguably, faith — of his country.

Years ago, Chinese police would target only openly Christian acts during Christmas, such as affirmations of faith. In 2014, for example, Chinese police arrested a woman for holding up a sign in public reading: “God, who loves the world so much, is calling Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan,” referring to the leader and the first lady.

The “Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch western holidays” banners still went up, and Christmas activities limited.

Christians actively practicing their “faith” are increasingly sought-after police targets. This month, police raided a church and “arrested” thirteen Christians for praying at an “illegal” service on Sunday in Guangdong province.

While no specifics on the charges facing the individuals are yet available, the advocacy group “China Aid” has revealed that police confiscated “illegal” Bibles and Christian materials found in the church.

In addition to “targeting” Christians, the Global Times notes that Hengyang and Beijing have “banned” anyone of any religion from making and selling “artificial snow” to observe the holiday, punishing this behavior with “a heavy fine.”

To “compete” with Christmas this year, China is debuting the world’s largest ice exhibition, the “Harbin Ice and Snow World” park, on Christmas Day.

The more secular aspects of Christmas — the bright holiday lights and scramble to shop for presents — remains an active part of Chinese life in places like Shanghai that depend more heavily on foreigners and host foreign, especially Western, businesses.

While Chinese citizens may not be allowed to decorate, “for many brands Christmas provides an opportunity to position themselves as international, modern and fun – characteristics that typically appeal to China’s much sought-after Millennial’s and provide plenty of branded Selfie-opportunities,” Forbes notes.

In rural China, where the Communist Party may have a less pronounced presence, Beijing has only just begun to “flex its muscles.”

Last month, Communist officials began visiting residents of villages in rural Jiangxi and ordering them to remove images of “Jesus” in their living rooms and replace them with “portraits” of Xi Jinping.

The individuals were “warned” that the government would deny them needed “aid packages” if they did not hide their “Christian” images in their bedrooms or other places where guests would not encounter them.

Chinese Authorities Ban Christmas, Call It ‘Western Spiritual Pollution’
Police Raid Worship Service
China’s Ice and Snow World park to open on Christmas Day
China Urges Rural Christians to Replace Jesus Images with Xi Jinping

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Christmas Choices

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas. There is no command in the Bible to remember the time of Christ’s birth—not even a hint of it—nor is there any illustration of that happening in New Testament days.

As far as we can tell, the Apostles never had a Christmas meal together, or a special worship meeting on that day.

Yet, many churches will focus a significant part of their yearly calendar on emphasizing Christmas. Some will do so both before and after the holiday itself, dedicating weeks to it. And many people will think that Christmas is, of all times of the year, one of the most holy days in the life of believers.

A good number who profess faith in Christ will think that attending special Christmas meetings, along with the Easter service, is required of God above almost all other obligations in the church year.

Some of these become what is often called, “Christmas and Easter Christians,“ believing they have satisfied God at least on a rudimentary level because they attend to these special days. But neither Christmas nor Easter is a required celebration by God.

It might surprise you to hear me say that a pastor could preach a sermon on the resurrection of Christ at the annual Christmas Service, and likewise, a message on the birth of Christ at the yearly Easter meeting, and God would not be unhappy in the least.

For one thing, we likely don’t have the date of Christ’s birth on the right day. Many calculate his birth to be more in the September-October time frame, perhaps closer to the very end of September. Some project another date. Almost certainly, it wasn’t a time when snow was on the ground, as is depicted in so many nativity Christmas cards.

The most important question is not whether or not you have to celebrate Christmas, but may you do so. I say “yes.” In fact, we do ourselves. We don’t get upset with people who do not celebrate it for the obvious reasons.

Nor are we worried when people get too commercial in their Christmas gift giving. Greed is wrong any time, but if a person is not greedy, then giving and exchanging gifts is not sinful. In fact, it may do much good in healing broken relationships.

If we wish to think about the birth of Christ during the December season, as long as we don’t make it obligatory for everyone, or take people’s enjoyment away by acting spiritually superior, then that’s our business. God loves to be worshiped for His great acts, and the birth of Christ is among the few most important things God did for mankind. Worship him as you will and when you will. In fact, worship him in your actions and heart all the time.

What if you choose to exchange gifts with each other and do not say anything about Christ on Christmas Day. Have you sinned? No.

What if you wish to think about Jesus’ birth two days after the December 25th date? Are you out of sync with God? Not at all.

The choice is yours as to what you will or will not do this Christmas.

But in all things you do, live as a believer should. Be grateful, kind, interested in others more than yourself, serving, generous, forgiving, and always mindful of what God through Christ has done for sinful people like you. In this way you please God most.

Holidays: Do You Really Enjoy Them?
An Empty Chair at Christmas
O Come, Let Us Ignore Him
A Clash of Kings

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