By Kristen Johnson
China recently released a draft of 26 new religious restrictions, with a public response deadline of October 7th to SARA (The State Administration for Religious Affairs). Chinese citizens are entitled to engage in religious activities, so long as it is fits within the new regulations. (Christianity.com).
One Chinese religious policy expert, who asked to remain anonymous, summed up some of what the regulations include:
- No religious activities that are not approved by SARA.
- No one may provide a venue for religious services that are not approved by SARA.
- No one may use their home for religious practices that are not approved by SARA (including home or family Bible studies).
- No publishing religious materials without approval from SARA.
- No foreign or domestic donations may be made to any religious organization that hasn’t been approved by SARA.
- No one may call themselves a pastor without the approval of SARA.
- No international religious exchanges may happen without the approval of SARA.
- No one may study theology at school without the approval of SARA. (Christianity.com).
Clearly, Christians (and presumably other religions as well) face strict controls, on top of strict controls that are already in place. China is officially an atheistic country, though a Chinese publisher recently printed their 125 millionth copy of the Bible (Financial Times).
Perhaps Christians in the West need to start thinking about where their Bibles come from. Perhaps it’s time for Christians to start calling for religious and civil rights freedoms for the people who produce a large majority of the items they buy. Perhaps it’s time for Christians to insist that our leaders call for stricter environmental controls on goods purchased from China, and that we insist that workers in factories are treated fairly.
As Christians, we are required to love our neighbors. Turning a blind eye while foreign governments restrict religious freedom (for Christianity and all other religions too!) is not loving our neighbors.
1 Corinthians 10:24 (NRSV): Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io