While the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) campaign to subjugate the Church in China has already begun, it is about to get a whole lot worse. Announced in November, approved on 8 January and published on 18 January, the CCP’s new ‘Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy’ will come into force on 1 May 2021. To operate legally, religious clergy – i.e., those who ‘engage in religious teaching activities’ (Article 2) – will require a ‘clergy card’ showing they are registered in the national database of authorised clergy. Registration will be difficult to achieve and easy to lose. To achieve registration, clergy must be identified by an authorised CCP approved/registered religious group and willing ‘to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China [and] the socialist system …’ (Article 3).
Registered clergy will be obliged to operate under the ‘supervision and management’ of the CCP’s Religious Affairs Department which will ‘guide’, monitor and ‘file records’ on all registered clergy (Articles 32-45). Furthermore, registered clergy and registered organisations will be obliged to monitor and report on each other (Articles 44 and 45). As occurs with ‘social credit’, a system of rewards and punishments will apply.
As Bitter Winter notes: ‘Compliant clergy [are] thus transformed into apparatchiks of the CCP, lured by rewards and terrorised by punishments. They will be called to “Sinicize” their religions and preach love for the CPP to their devotees. Not much will be left of genuine religion – which is precisely the aim of these and other previous measures.’
The new Administrative Measures raise the stakes considerably. For clergy (religious workers), as with churches, the choice is now between (1) compliance (serving the CCP), (2) open resistance (resulting in prison), or (3) secret resistance (moving ministry deep underground). It is highly likely that, within a few years, all China’s resisting ‘clergy’ will be either suffering in prison or hidden underground. The CCP’s plan, in the same way that the cross is being eliminated from China’s skyline, is to have the evangel eliminated from the land.
Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin