China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1

China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1, is described as follows by the Chinese government and Reuters news agency.  Yes, believe it or not, they both describe the same thing.

China's Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1 represented by china-christianity-islam-flag

China has revised its regulation on religious affairs, to take effect on Feb 1, 2018, according to a decree signed by Premier Li Keqiang and released by the State Council on Sept 7.

The last version of the regulation was released in November 2004 and took effect in March 2005.

The regulation is formulated with the goal of protecting citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintaining religious and social harmony and regulating the management of religious affairs.

It specified that citizens are entitled to the right of freedom of religion.

Well, that’s what the official press release says.  The quote above is from the English version published by The State Council, The People’s Republic of China.  You” see more quotes from the site as we go through Article I of the new Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs.

On the other hand, Reuters has this take on the new Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs –

President Xi Jinping has emphasized the need to guard against foreign infiltration through religion and the need to prevent the spread to “extremist” ideology, while also being tolerant of traditional faiths that he sees as a salve to social ills.

The officially atheist ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate.

The rules, which come into effect on Feb 2, 2018, also place new oversight on online discussion of religious matters, on religious gatherings, the financing of religious groups and the construction of religious buildings, among others.

They increase existing restrictions on unregistered religious groups to include explicit bans on teaching about religion or going abroad to take part in training or meetings.

There are differences between the China and Reuters statements.  You’ll see, as we go through the entire document, which statement is more accurate.  Spoiler alert: it’s not the official one.

Background info

Before getting into the details, if you’d like to check out the background information for this series of article, it all begins with Can new religious regulations in China beat God?  

China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1

And so – let’s begin.

We’ll go through each of the six Articles in the final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1. 

Please note, there were five articles in the previous version of the regulations.  That was the 2005 version.  

When the draft 2016 regulations came out, there were six articles.  The 2016 draft was not published, as mentioned in earlier posts in the series.  Because of complaints by religious organizations, it was modified and now has the final form of the 2017 version.  The final version will go into effect February 1, 2018.

We’ll look at each article, starting with a comparison of the current (soon expiring) 2005 version to the draft 2016 version.  That will show what the original changes were meant to be.  Then, we’ll compare the 2016 draft to the final 2017 version.  Then, we’ll see that the old adage “be careful what you ask for”, is still alive and well.  Complaints about the draft version weren’t met with something more acceptable, but with replies that were even worse than the original.

One final note:  In order to make things easier to read, I’m taking the liberty of adding a, b, c, Etc. to each Article number to denote the paragraphs.  They aren’t part of the original English translation.  However, it’s far easier to say Article 2b than it is to say the second paragraph of Article 2.  Since the numbers don’t line up perfectly between the various versions of regulations, we’ll use the Article numbers from the 2016 final document.


Article 1

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
1a. These Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws for the purposes of ensuring citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintaining harmony among and between religions, preserving social concord and regulating the administration of religious affairs. 1a. These Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws for the purposes of ensuring citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintaining harmony among and between religions, preserving social concord and regulating the administration of religious affairs. 1a. These Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws so as to ensure citizens’freedom of religious belief, maintain harmony among and between religions, maintain social harmony, regulate the administration of religious affairs, and increase the level of legalification in work on religion.

Article 1 is identical in the 2005 and in the draft 2016 regulations.  However, there is a huge change in the final Religious Affairs Regulations.

and increase the level of legalification [sic] in work on religion

It’s hard to think this isn’t a direct response to the complaints about the 2016 draft regulations.  It’s like the Chinese government is letting religious people in China know who is really in charge.  Or maybe the Chinese government is daring someone to complain again.

The phrase increase the level of legalification in work on religion serves to put the proper perspective on the rest of the regulations.

It’s also puts the lie to Article 2, which we’ll see in a moment.

maintain harmony among and between religions

Maintaining harmony among and between religions is a difficult goal to even reach, let alone maintain.  Given the current state of affairs in China, I believe “maintain” is the wrong word to use. Furthermore, given the goal to incresase the level of legalification in work on religion, even the Chinese government realizes they don’t have the level of control over religion they want / claim to have.

Over the past few years, Christianity and Islam in China have both increased in numbers.  The new religious regulations are designed to change that.  By watering down the religion, even if the numbers increase, the impact of the religion won’t be what it is today.  The net result is that the atheist government in China will be able to maintain tighter control, if all goes according to plan.  If.  And that’s what this whole series is all about:  Can new religious regulations in China beat God?

regulate the administration of religious affairs

Article 1 keeps getting worse.  With everything else in this opening article, this is the worst.  It’s a statement of admission that the government wants to regulate religious affairs.  That’s an atheist government, and it want to regulate religion.  Maybe more than anything else, that statement, buried in Article 1, sets the tone for what’s to come in the new regulations.


Article 2a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
2a. Citizens have freedom of
religious belief.
2a. Citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief.

2a. Citizens have the freedom of religious belief.

Chinese citizens enjoy freedom or religious belief.  Or is it
Chinese citizens having freedom of religious belief.

Which is it – have or enjoy?

I can’t say if this is a translation difference, or if it’s really the implications of the words.  However, given that the translations for both the draft 2016 and the final 2017 regulations are from the same source, I’d say the difference is real.

If that’s the case, we see one more time where the Chinese government has passed a set of regulations on religion where they are sending a message of be careful what you ask for.  Or maybe it’s a case of making it clear in the final version that the government has declared war on religion.  In spite of the Chinese government talking points, in the first two paragraphs of Chapter 1 we clearly see that there will be no “enjoyment” of religious belief.  BTW – there is no “having” freedom of religion either.


Article 2b

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
2b. No organization or individual may compel citizens to believe or not believe in religion. There shall be no discrimination against religious citizens (hereinafter referred to as religious citizens) or non-religious citizens (hereafter referred to as non-religious citizens). 2b. No organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as religious citizens) or citizens who do not believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as non-religious citizens). 2b. No organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as religious citizens) or citizens who do not believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as non-religious citizens).

This one got shorter.  Shorter is better, right?  Not so much detail must mean less regulation.  Doesn’t it?

Well, that’s not really true.  It’s sightly shorter, but it says the same thing.  No organization or individual is allowed to discriminate against someone because of their religious beliefs.  Or because of their lack of religious beliefs.  

There is a contradiction in this clause, as it relates to the government and some religious beliefs.  The contradiction has to do with the differences between the teaching of some religions (such as Christianity and Islam) versus the Chinese government approved teachings of those religions.  Article 1 has in fact already resolved this contradiction.  OK, maybe not in so many words.  But, that phrase we looked at earlier increase the level of legalification in work on religion, makes it quite clear that any contradictions will be resolved in favor of the atheist Chinese government.


Article 2c

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
2c. Religious citizens and non-religious citizens, citizens of every faith should live in mutual respect and harmony. 2c. Religious citizens and non-religious citizens shall respect each other and co-exist in harmony, and so shall citizens who believe in different religions. 2c. Religious citizens and non-religious citizens shall respect each other and co-exist in harmony, and so shall citizens who believe in different religions.

Clearly, this one is targeted at both religious and non-religious extremists alike.  There is nothing in Christianity that calls for violence against anyone.  In spite of what has been done in the name of Christianity, absolutely nothing can be pointed to in the New Testament that calls for war, forced conversions, Etc.  Unfortunately, this is not the case for Islam.  There are Sura’s in the Qur’an that definitely can be pointed to as calling for violence against non-believers / infidels.  Muhammad’s own life is also a historical reality that some use as an example to be followed.  To be sure, there are portions of the Qur’an that disagree with that approach.  It’s an issue within Islam that must be dealt with.


Article 3a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
no matching article 3a. The management of religious affairs upholds the principles of protecting what is lawful, prohibiting what is unlawful, suppressing extremism, resisting infiltration, and fighting crime.

3a. The management of religious affairs upholds the principles of protecting what is lawful, prohibiting what is unlawful, suppressing extremism, resisting infiltration, and fighting crime.

Article 3a is completely new. 

It has no corresponding items from the current 2005 regulations.  To make it as clear as possible, here’s a list of the items covered in Article 3a.

  • protecting what is lawful.
    Obviously there are conflicts between religion and laws of the state.  We’ve already seen that cases such as this will be decided in favor of the state.
  • prohibiting what is unlawful.
    Laws of the state need no further protection, so this is merely one more statement that any portion of a religion that is in conflict with governmental laws will be prohibited.
  • suppressing extremism.
    Extremism is already banned in Article 2c.  This is nothing but a restatement of that.
  • resisting infiltration.
    We have not seen this yet (it’s coming later in the regulations) but the Chinese government views religion as a conduit allowing outside forces to infiltrate and subvert the people.
  • fighting crime.
    The Chinese government also views religion as a source of crime.  This theme will be repeated later in the regulations.

While there is nothing new here, repetition does serve to reinforce the level of importance the Chinese government places on these themes.


Article 4a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
3a. The state protects normal religious activities according to law, safeguards the legal rights and interests of religious organizations, sites and citizens. 4a. The State, in accordance with the law, protects normal religious activities, and safeguards the lawful rights and interests of religious groups, religious schools, sites for religious activities and religious citizens.

4a. The State, in accordance with the law, protects normal religious activities,actively guides religion to fit in with socialist society, and safeguards the lawful rights and interests of religious groups, religious schools, religious activity sites and religious citizens.

One thing to note here is the addition of “religious schools”.  That sounds good.  And it might even be good, if it wasn’t for two other things that are included in Article 4a.

First of all, there is a phrase added in the 2017 final version.  And once again, it’s worse than the 2016 draft.  The phrase is actively guides religion to fit in with socialist society.  It’s an interesting statement.  Read the passage below and see if sounds a bit socialist.

The Fellowship of the Believers The Fellowship of the Believers 

Ac 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Of course, this isn’t the model in China.  It is, however, a portion of the way socialism was supposedly designed to function.  

The second, and probably more troubling issue is the word “normal”.  When we hear “normal religious activities” in the U.S. and in many other countries, we think of something very different than the atheist Chinese government.  China is protecting something very different that we would.  The Chinese regulations protect the government from religion by changing the religion.  They are not protecting the beliefs of a religion itself, but are actively modifying the beliefs to the “official state” religion and calling that “normal”.


Article 4b

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
3b. Religious organizations, sites and citizens shall abide by the Constitution, laws, and regulations, safeguard national unity, ethnic unity, religious harmony and social stability. 4b. Religious groups, religious schools sites for religious activities and religious citizens shall abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations and rules, and safeguard unification of the country, ethnic unity, religious harmony and social stability. 4b. Religious groups, religious schools, religious activity sites, and religious citizens shall abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations and rules; practice the core socialist values; and preserve the unification of the country, ethnic unity, religious harmony and social stability.

Once again, we see religious schools added to the regulations.  And once again, we see that it’s not to provide protection for religion.  In fact, religious schools are included for the purpose of ensuring that anything that might be religious in nature is held subordinate to the constitution of China, these regulations, socialist values, unity of many types, and social stability.

Jesus and Muhammad both brought in religions that ran totally counter to the culture of the time.  Christianity and Islam were both major upheavals to society and governments at the time of their origin.  Christianity was a peaceful “overthrow”, with the Roman emperor converting and becoming a Christian.  Islam was spread by a combination of willing conversions and wars,  Either way though – standing governments “fell” to both of them.  Yes, in later years both religions spread by force – but I’m talking about how they got started, based on the teachings and actions of Jesus and Muhammad respectively.  

Based on history, it’s understandable why a government like China is concerned about religion.  It’s about self-preservation for the leaders, in China’s case the Communist Party.  Our question in this series is whether any of these regulations could possibly stand up against God’s will.


Article 4c

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
3c. No organization or individual shall use religion to disrupt social order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the national educational system, or other harm national interests, public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of citizens. 4c. Religion must not be used by any individual or organization to engage in activities that endanger national security, disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or obstruct the State educational system, as well as other activities that harm State or societal public interests, or citizens’ lawful rights and interests. 4c. Religion must not be used by any individual or organization to engage in activities that endanger national security, disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or obstruct the State educational system, as well as other activities that harm State or societal public interests, or citizens’ lawful rights and interests, and other such illegal activities.

The difference between the current 2005 regulations and the 2016 draft document is minimal.  Primarily, it’s a rewording of the same thoughts. 

However, there is a new phrase attached to the 2017 final regulations: and other such illegal activities.  The draft document already contained as well as other activities that harm State or societal public interests, or citizens’ lawful rights and interests.  Apparently that wasn’t general enough to catch all possible ways to restrain religion, so an even more general catch-all was added.  One more time, the message of be careful what you ask for is made crystal clear.  That last phrase makes it possible to convict on pretty much anything the government comes up with.  It’s like the last line of all the job descriptions where I used to work: “other duties as assigned”.  The intent of both was to be all-inclusive, at the whims of the ones in control.


Article 4d

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
no matching paragraph 4d. Individuals and organizations must not create contradictions and conflicts between different religions, within a single religion, or between religious and non-religious citizens; must not advocate religious extremism, and must not use religion to undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation or carry out terrorist activities. 4d. Individuals and organizations must not create contradictions and conflicts between different religions, within a single religion, or between religious and non-religious citizens; must not advocate, support, or fund, religious extremism; and must not use religion to undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation or carry out terrorist activities.

Another new paragraph.  And another impossible situation.  If all religions had the same beliefs, there would be no conflicts and no chance for contradiction.  But that’s not reality.  By definition, different religions do have different beliefs, they do contradict in certain ways.  And since people are involved there will be conflicts.

Aside from that, the rest of this paragraph seems rather tame.  It’s just a repeat of things already said in previous articles. 

However, there’s no getting around the fact that the only way for no conflicts to exist is for the atheist government to water down Christianity and Islam to the point where they are no longer recognizable.


Article 5a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
4a. Religions shall adhere to the principle of independence and autonomy, and no religious groups, site or affair shall be subject to any foreign domination. 5a. All religions shall adhere to the principle of independence and self-governance; religious groups, religious schools, and sites for religious activities and religious affairs are not controlled by foreign forces. 5a. All religions shall adhere to the principle of independence and self-governance; religious groups, religious schools, and religious activity sites and religious affairs, are not to be controlled by foreign forces.

This sounds awesome at the beginning: All religions shall adhere to the principle of independence and self-governance.  But then we find out that the only independence is from foreign forces.  And, the reality is the self-governance is meant only for the state-sponsored religions – not the truly independent religions that China is trying to crush.

Given our topic, I’m quite sure China thinks they can treat God as one of those “foreign forces”.  Being an atheist government, they clearly have no idea of their place in the universe.  They can dominate other countries and their own people.  But eventually, this is going to happen with the growth of the “real” church in China –

Ex 3:7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Yes, this was thousands of years ago.  But the comparison is so obvious.  Substitute China for Egypt.  Then substitute “my people in China” for the Israelites.  Finally substitute the Communist Party for Pharaoh.  Now, you have God rescuing His people from China and there’s nothing the atheist government can do about it.  Nothing.


Article 5b

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
4b. Religious bodies, sites, and personnel shall interact with other countries on the basis of friendship and equality; other organizations or individuals engaged in foreign economic and cultural cooperation and exchange should be free of religious conditions. 5b. Religious bodies, religious schools, sites for religious activities, and religious personnel may develop external exchange on the basis of friendship and equality; other organizations or individuals must not accept any religious conditions in external cooperation or exchange in economic, cultural or other fields. 5b. Religious bodies, religious schools, religious activity sites, and religious professionals are to develop external exchange on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and friendship; other organizations or individuals must not accept any religious conditions in external cooperation or exchange in economic, cultural or other fields.

This one is interesting.  Something almost got past the government.  Note, the current 2005 regulations say shall interact with other countries… .  However, the draft document only says may develop external exchange… .  That would have been a shocking change if it had gone through.  The word “may” says there are options – that this regulation may or may not be followed.  As part of the review after receiving complaints about the harshness of the draft document, that oversight was fixed.  There are no options in the phrase are to develop external exchange… 

As is the case throughout the final 2017 regulations, religious schools have been added.  Again, this isn’t to grant them freedom, but to ensure they have every restriction that’s placed on all other religious elements in the country.

Of course, we can’t leave this paragraph without noting that mutual respect and equality are difficult to have when the official Chinese religion is so different from the true instances of a religion.  As for friendship, I’m actually surprised that was allowed to go through.


Article 6a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
no matching paragraph 6a. All levels of people’s government shall strengthen guidance of religious work, establish religious work mechanisms, and ensure the strength of religious work and necessary conditions for religious work. 6a. All levels of people’s government shall strengthen work on religion, establish and complete mechanisms for work on religion, and ensure the strength of and the necessary conditions for the work.

Yes, another new regulation.  And it’s one that sounds good when it’s a government talking point.  Well, maybe it sounds good.  

The truth is, it’s anything but good.  

All levels of the “people’s government“.  That means all levels of the Communist Party.

And all that work and the conditions?  That means the Communist Party is to ensure they have their fingers in everything religious.  It means the “people’s government” is as involved as possible in making sure the people don’t know the realities of the false religions their government wants them to know about.

Again, the question has to be raised – do they think they can be a greater presence in the lives of the people than God can be?  Only an atheist would hang to to a hope that they could succeed.  

Even the people’s government can’t do this –

Pr 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.


Article 6b

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
5a. Religious Affairs Departments
at county level and higher shall involve national interests and social public interests of religious affairs administration, other county level and higher government departments are responsible within their respective areas according to the law relating to administrative work.
6b. The religious affairs department of the people’s government at the county level or above are to lawfully carry out management of religious affairs that involve State or public interests, and the other departments of the people’s government at the county level or above are to be responsible for the management of relevant affairs within the scope of their respective functions and duties. Villagers’ committees and residents’ committees assist people’s governments and relevant departments in managing religious affairs. 6b. The religious affairs departments of the people’s governments at the county level or above are to lawfully carry out management of religious affairs that involve State or public interests, and the other departments of the people’s governments at the county level or above are to be responsible for the management of relevant affairs within the scope of their respective functions and duties.

At first glance, it looks like the final document is weaker than the 2016 draft.  Villagers’ committees and residents’ committees assist people’s governments and relevant departments in managing religious affairs was added in the draft.  But then it’s gone from the final version.  It’s a win for the folks who protested against the draft for being too restrictive.  

Well, actually that’s not true.  You’ll see why in the very next paragraph.

Article 6c


2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
no matching paragraph no matching paragraph 6c. People’s governments at the township level shall complete efforts for the management of religious affairs within their own administrative areas. Villagers’ committees and residents’ committees shall lawfully assist people’s governments in managing religious affairs.

Oops.  It’s back: Villagers’ committees and residents’ committees assist people’s governments and relevant departments in managing religious affairs.  It’s the old spy on your neighbor and turn them in tactic.  Make people afraid to participate in any form of religion other than the state approved ones, because anything else could be the end of your life as you know it.

And it’s not a sentence buried in the middle of a paragraph someplace.  It’s on it own – front and center.  

This represents a whole new level of trying to stop God.  And yet, ultimately, it will also fail.

This morning, I thought about a container of water.  It’s open on top,  It does a nice job keeping the water from spreading.  Until something large is dropped into it.  Then, the water splashes all over the place.  If the dropped object is big enough it will break – or totally smash – the container.  Then, there’s water all over the place.  The Chinese government may be able to convince themselves that they have God in that container.  But they don’t see the small leaks – God’s word getting out, even when they think it’s contained.  And there’s nothing any government can do when God’s ready to break that container into pieces.

See the China situation is Psalms

This passage from Psalms 14 very much describes what’s happening in China (and other places in the world).

Ps 14:1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

Ps 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.

Ps 14:3 All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

Ps 14:4 Will evildoers never learn—
those who devour my people as men eat bread
and who do not call on the LORD?

Ps 14:5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.

Ps 14:6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.


Article 6d

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
5b. Governments at all levels shall solicit the views of religious bodies, sites and citizens, in the coordination and management of religious affairs. 6c. All levels of people’s governments shall hear the views of religious groups, religious schools, sites for religious activities, and religious citizens, and coordinate the management of religious affairs so as to provide public services to religious groups, religious schools and sites for religious activities. 6d. All levels of people’s governments shall hear the views of religious groups, religious schools, religious activity sites, and religious citizens, and coordinate the management of religious affairs so as to provide public services to religious groups, religious schools and religious activity sites.

Finally, the last paragraph in Chapter 1.  It may be the last, but it’s far from the least.  It might even be the most ominous paragraph so far.

Notice that in the draft version and the final document – coordinate the management of religious affairs so as to provide public services to religious groups, religious schools and religious activity sites.  In most countries, religious groups provide services to the people in the country.  In China, the “people’s government” is going to provide services to the religious groups. 

That’s completely backwards.  And by now we certainly know what kinds of “services” are going to be provided to religious groups.  It’s going to be re-training to make it clear that the rest of the world has their religion all wrong.  It’s going to be re-defining God’s role in their religion.  It’s going to be about making religion as un-religious as possible.


Conclusion

As bad as things may seem at this point, it’s only the beginning.  Remember, as we saw in earlier posts in this series, this is only the first chapter.  There are eight more.  Worse yet, Chapter I is only covering the “General Provisions”.  Just wait until we get to the specific provisions.

And yet, it will not be enough to defeat God.

We read this from Revelation.

Rev 18:21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:  “With such violence  the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,  never to be found again.

I had to put this passage in, after thinking about the water earlier in the day.

It’s not about China.  Babylon represents the worst of the worst, the most powerful nation ever, during the End Times.  And yet God will defeat it.  What chance does China have against that kind of power?  None.  They just don’t realize it.

All of this is setting up the scenario for God to do amazing things in China.  One of the people in class this morning said it would be better for China to just leave the Christians alone.  Look at the U.S.  Christianity is going downhill.  But if history shows us anything. it’s that oppression against Christians makes them stronger.  And that’s because when we are weak, God is at His greatest.  Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

2Co 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, as much as I wrote about how awful these new religious regulations are in China, we must remember what the Chinese government cannot see.  The more the atheist government tries to suppress Christianity and prevent people from knowing God, the more those same people will reach out to God to rescue them.  And then, the greater the response God will have for both the rescue of those who call out to Him, and His wrath for the government that tried to keep the people from Him.

It’s entirely possible, if not probable, that what’s happening in China isn’t the “people’s government” suppressing them, but God setting up the “people’s government” for an incredible fall at God’s own hand.

When we look at the situation from that point of view, we see the importance of praying for the Chinese people, and anyone in their situation.  God responds when His people call out to Him.  Christians outside of China, can and should be calling out to God for their rescue.  Furthermore, as we seem to be marching faster and faster towards the end, we also need to remember the real goal – it’s for their souls.  Even if the Chinese government doesn’t fall – it can still fail.  It can, must, and will fail in it’s attempts to keep people from knowing God.


Post Script:  A Trend?

I need to point out that China is not the only country involved in this kind of religious regulation.  Those of us who live in the U.S. sometimes feel like we’re not persecuted for our religion.  Others in the U.S. feel the exact opposite.  However, the sad truth is that people in many parts of the world have it much worse than us – literally dying for their beliefs.  

These new religious regulations in China occupy a middle ground.  According to reports, some have gone missing in China – punishment for subversion by religion, so to speak.  The new regulations seem to take these disappearances from a quiet / mysterious disappearance to one that is now sanctioned by law.  Also the new regulations fundamentally change the basis of some religions.

This same kind of thing is also happening in Nepal, along with other countries in southeast Asia.  

All of this begs a question.  When is it coming to us?

If this topic interests you, I recommend checking out the top level article for this entire subject – Religion and Government – their impact on our salvation.  


Sources:

2005 regulations:  U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China 
https://www.cecc.gov/resources/legal-provisions/regulations-on-religious-affairs

2016 draft regulations: China Law Translate
http://www.chinalawtranslate.com/religious-regulations/?lang=en#_Toc461114371

2017 final regulations: China Law Translate
https://www.chinalawtranslate.com/%E5%AE%97%E6%95%99%E4%BA%8B%E5%8A%A1%E6%9D%A1%E4%BE%8B-2017/?lang=en

 

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