A Chinese church has been fined $10,000 RMB (the equivalent of $1,400 in U.S.) for having a copy of the Bible in a different language.
One branch of the Protestant Three-Self Church, located in the northeastern province of Liaoning, was fined the equivalent of $1,400 after copies of South Korean versions of the Bible were discovered by the Chinese Communist Party officials in April. Other Three-Self churches had hymnbooks, gospel pamphlets and Bibles confiscated and burned, according to Bitter Winter, a religious liberty magazine focused on China.
“The church was also prohibited from selling Bibles,” Bitter Winter reported.
The congregation, Fengyang Road Three-Self Great Church in the northeastern province of Liaoning, is a member of the officially recognized Three-Self network of Protestant churches that face severe restrictions.
The fine was part of the Communist Party’s effort to “eradicate pornography and illegal publications” – and the latest example of the party’s crackdown on Christianity.
“Many believers have reported that the Three-Self churches to which they belong have been subjected to sudden inspections by the government,” Bitter Winter reported. “All newspapers, hymnbooks, gospel leaflets, and especially Bibles that weren’t published and printed by the state were confiscated and even burned.”
The government even has forced churches to hang banners promoting the campaign against illegal books. In August, Fengzhuang Three-Self Church in the central province of Henan was forced to display a banner urging its members to help “eradicate pornography and illegal publications.”
Some members of the Fengzhuang Three-Self Church objected to the banner because it implied the congregation was hiding either pornography or illegal publications.
“The government’s campaign to ‘eradicate pornography and illegal publications’ has actually swept into churches. This is slanderous to God!” one of the church’s co-workers told Bitter Winter.
A second Christian agreed.
“This isn’t just slanderous, but is a trap laid by the devil to make people mistakenly believe that there is a severe problem with the church’s ethos,” the second Christian said.
Marco Respinti, the director-in-charge of the Italian-based publication, told Fox News the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using “very tricky, subtle cultural warfare” to combat the church in China.
“Sometimes the CCP says you’re allowed to have religious materials in the state-controlled church, but then they stop people, so it’s contradictory,” Respinti said. “They are trying to control all of culture, and religion is a huge part of people’s culture. So they’re trying not only to stop people’s public expression of religion but they are also trying to go into personal things — beliefs — they are trying to indoctrinate people through these banning of religious materials.”
Since March 2018, the Chinese government has banned online and retail sales of Bibles, and hymnals and other spiritual books aren’t allowed in churches unless sanctioned and published by the CCP, moving the churches further and further away from any semblance of religious liberty.
China is ranked number 27 on Persecution Watchdog, Open Door’s list of top 50 countries where it is most deadly to be a christian.