As further evidence of Communist China's continuing persecution of Christians, a pastor's sermon was edited by government officials who required him to remove the sentence "God made Heaven and Earth and created everything," and also demanded that he include more Chinese and pro-Communist Party references, the religious liberty watchdog group Bitter Winter reported.
The pastor is from Shangqui city in the Henan province, according to ChristianHeadlines.com, a member of the Salem Web Network. He leads a Protestant church that is registered with the Chinese government.
“The censorship of sermons is a common occurrence in today’s China,” said Bitter Winter’s Xin Lu. The churches that register with the government's "Three-Self Patriotic Movement" must submit their sermons to authorities for review. This is "one of the reasons millions of Chinese Christians worship in illegal unregistered churches," said Xin Lu.
The Three-Self movement is run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For churches to operate legally, they must join the movement and follow its rules. The Three-Self movement "reserves the right to censor and control their churches to the extent they deem necessary and appropriate," reported The Gospel Coalition.
The pastor in Shangqui city was told that his Bible quotes must include "Chinese interpretations," and sermons must "examine Scripture within the context of Chinese culture," reported ChristianHeadlines.com on May 8.
“We’re in a very difficult position now,” the pastor said. “By making us write these ‘sinicized’ sermons, isn’t the CCP forcing us to tell lies and go against the Lord’s words?”
Bitter Winter reported that the Communist government “wants all sermons to be in accord with the Party ideology” and its “current policies.”
“[Sermons] should always praise the goodness of leaders and beauty of China’s nature,” stated Bitter Winter. “Sermons should include topics like the revolution or the Communist Party’s faultless leadership and kindness as the reason for the good life of China’s citizens.”