The government protects normal religious activities, according to the law. That’s the dream and the goal of many of today’s Christians, isn’t it? It certainly seems to be in America. But this is from China. The atheist country that’s trying to destroy Christianity and rebuild it in their image. Still think the government protects religion?
It’s surreal to watch what goes on in the world these days.
People in one country want the government to save and protect their religion. While people in another country want the government to stay out of their religion.
People in the first country think their government will lead them to Heaven. People in the second country know their government will take them as far as possible away from God and Heaven.
Both claim to support religious freedom. The reality is that neither really does. The sad part is the one that had religious freedoms is turning more and more into the second country.
The first country is the one I live in. The U.S.
The second country is China.
Let’s see what China has in place. And see where the U.S., under the direction of self-proclaimed Christians, seems to be going. We’ll see there’s more in common than there are differences.
Article 4: 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.
So, in China, they safeguard the “lawful right and interests of”:
- religious groups
- religious schools
- religious activities sites, and
- religious citizens
If you thought my image of soldiers “protecting” a church building was far-fetched, think again.
They are out to protect the rights, at least those rights allowed by law, of “religious activity sites”.
Among other things, that clearly means church buildings.
Maybe that’s why they have no problem blowing up church buildings when the people in those buildings don’t use said buildings in the lawfully right manner.
After all, they can “honestly” say what they did wasn’t illegal.
What about ethical or moral? Well, that depends on your value system. There’s a huge difference between the ethics and morals of an atheist and a Christian. At least, there should be.
The end result, if successful, of campaigns to redefine Christianity – whether in China or in the U.S. – are to make the ethics and morals of Christians align with those of whoever’s in power.
Differences between Christianity and Article 4
In some ways, the differences between Christianity and what Article 4 initially states can be subtle. They can even be interpreted differently, depending on our point of view. For instance, check out the passage below, and think about comparisons/contrasts between what it says and what Socialism purports to be.
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.
Yes, some would say that’s the goal of socialism. And maybe it is. But, if that’s true, then its biggest problem is people. Left to our own devices, we just don’t live like that.
Some do. But it doesn’t take all that many to have the ideal fail. And then you end up with what always happens in socialist countries in this world. Dictators. Those who are out for themselves take advantage of everyone else.
Of course, that sounds a lot like the problems with Capitalism. And Monarchies.
It’s safe to say, without the Holy Spirit, the people in the early church would not have been able to live according to what the NIV translation of the Bible calls The Fellowship of the Believers.
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at the details in Article 4. While doing that, we’ll pay attention to how they get in the way of anything resembling the fellowship of the believers. And, we’ll see what, if any, equivalent factors we have in the U.S.
What are the details of Article 4?
The opening phrase of Article Four seems like maybe, just maybe, there’s a hope for religion. The State, in accordance with the law, protects normal religious activities … Of course, hope is dashed when you read the rest of the paragraph.
It doesn’t end there though. It gets even worse. The details that follow are “full of don’t do this” kinds of statements rather than what religions can do. It reminds me of more and more people’s view of freedom of religion in the U.S. That is, it’s not freedom of religion, but freedom from religion.
Let’s take a look.
Article 4, Religious groups, schools, activity sites, and citizens
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.
Whose religious activities are being protected?
We see four sets of people/things whose religious activities are being “protected”. It’s an interesting combination. Notice that only one of them could possibly be construed as an individual person. Maybe. Here they are:
China religious activity groups
|Group Name||Consists Of|
|Religious groups||Could be groups of people and/or organizations. Individual rights are probably not important.|
|Religious schools||Multiple people, under the guidance set for schools in general, with the added items in these regulations. Individual rights are likely not considered at all.|
|Religious activity sites||Locations, land and/or buildings, where religious activities take place. Land and buildings are not people.|
|Religious citizens||While this could possibly include individual people’s rights, it is much more likely that individual rights aren’t considered, since other things take precedence.|
As you can see, individual rights are minimal, if not nonexistent. So, the protection of rights doesn’t have a whole lot to do with individual rights. The thing is, as much as we might like to talk about individual rights here in the U.S., we keep losing/giving up more and more of them all the time. We’ll see that as we continue.
How are religious activities “protected”?
It’s OK if you’d like to laugh or snicker at this point. Check out this list, before we go through it.
Ways religious activities are protected
|Source of protection||Details|
|Core Socialist Values||12 values from Chinese Communist Party|
Interesting, isn’t it? It’s just hard to imagine how that list of requirements is going to protect religious activities of any kind.
The truth is, it does. However, the truth is also that it protects the atheist Chinese government’s versions of religions at the expense of the true religion being redefined.
Unfortunately, as I’ll continue to repeat, it’s happening here in the U.S. as well.
Let’s look at some details.
How the Constitution protects religion
As the table shows, the constitution in China protects religious freedom. And, as with the U.S., various federal and state laws expand on the Constitution. That means the laws, regulations, and rules vary from state to state. Further, when the courts get involved, those various laws get interpreted by different judges in different jurisdictions in different manners.
You’d think that’s the end of it. But it isn’t. Especially since one former President in particular was in office, and even more so now that he’s out of office, Americans are learning there’s no need to obey laws we don’t like. Even the police, government attorneys, and judges are deciding which laws they want to enforce and which they want to ignore. Not to mention the governors who outright flout the intent, if not the letter, of the law.
The end result is that, at least in China, you know where you stand. In the U.S., it really depends on where you are, who you are, who you know, and how much money you have. And other things.
Another difference between the U.S. and China is the reasons why government is involved in defining/redefining religions.
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. Pretty much any religion is at odds with an atheist government that would like to either remove religion entirely, which has failed so far, or to redefine religions to the point where they aren’t a threat anymore, which is what’s happening now.
In the U.S., it’s still about staying in power. But, it’s done by pandering to the wills of conservative Christians by the Republicans versus liberal secular people by the Democrats. Yes, that’s a generalization. And yet, it has been shown that it was the driving force behind Trump winning the 2016 election for President. The problem is that things are so polarized that for too many Christians, the Christianity Jesus taught isn’t what they practice any longer. Their leaders are more than willing to pass laws in order to get votes. Too often, those laws are counter to what Jesus taught.
The problem is that certain hot-button items become so polarizing that people are willing to identify one thing they believe to be Christian, and then ignore everything else. Whoever will support that one thing is their “savior”. So we end up with the secular Democrats taking better care of the poor and the unwanted people while the allegedly Christian Republicans are too often willing to just put them in jail, or in conditions that may as well be jail.
As we continue in the series, we’ll see how that plays out. But the thing to remember is this: No matter whether it’s China or the U.S. the “official supported” version of Christianity is watering down and even changing Jesus’ teachings to the point where they can be hard to recognize.
The bottom line is that neither constitution supports true Christianity.
How the Core Socialist Values Protect Religion
Earlier we looked at The Fellowship of the Believers and how socialism might work in theory. Well, here’s Chinese Socialism in action.
What are the Core Socialist Values? 1 Heritage and Innovation of Core Socialist Values at http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/ctenglish/2018/br/201803/t20180308_800120759.html
- Values for the Nation
- Values for Collective Society
- rule of law
- Values for the Individual
The list above is from China Today. Below are some excerpts that explain what some of these items supposedly mean. It’s important to contrast the supposed intended meaning and the reality that exists in China. It’s also worthwhile to look at similar types of alleged values here in the U.S. As we go through it, also consider the impact specifically on religious freedoms and religious activities.
It’s a timely topic, since some conservative Christians are now calling some of Jesus’ teachings socialist and “woke” liberal talking points.
It’s also kind of odd, maybe even scary, because Jesus wasn’t political at all.
One of the most obvious passages about this is the one below, where Jesus clearly laid out the fact that there’s a difference between God and Caesar, between Heavenly “government” and human government – and that we need to know what belongs to each.
12:13-17 pp — Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26
Mk 12:13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Mk 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Let’s keep that in mind, as well as all the other stuff we’ve looked at, as we go through the list.
After much searching and AI chatting, I was unable to find a source in China that actually described what the twelve core values actually represent. It appears this is intentional. Many articles addressed the desire of China to be more acceptable to Western countries. These twelve core values, as used today, allow us to read something into life in China that isn’t really there.
Therefore, I’m using a source (allegedly) from a westerner who’s giving their view after living in China for a while: A Perennial Follower 2The Meaning behind the Twelve Core Values of Chinese Socialism (社会主义核心价值观) – A Perennial Follower (wordpress.com)
In a very real sense, this isn’t a problem. It’s obvious that these twelve values aren’t equally allowed in China, so they’re either meaningless words or they really are being used to try to fool Westerners. In either case, they do have ancient origins, so they at least used to have some meaning and some value.
Having said that, we also have to recognize that things like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” aren’t available to lots of Americans either.
The only true source for happiness, contentment, joy, and the like is God. And while it’s available to a degree in this life, we won’t really experience it until the next life, in Heaven.
Conclusion – The government protects normal religious activities, according to the law
As you’ve just read, my intent was to go through the core values, then compare them to the U.S. and to Christianity’s teachings.
However, it quickly became obvious that this was going to make for a very long post. So, I’m ending this one here, and the comparisons will come in their own segment Comparing Christianity, American Democracy, and China’s twelve core socialist values. I’ll activate a link here when it’s done.
I believe it’s going to be a very interesting read. My initial thoughts, which may surprise some of you, are that we, in America, are much closer to the values of the atheist Chinese government than we are to those of Christianity, as taught by Jesus.
image by Bing
- 1Heritage and Innovation of Core Socialist Values at http://www.chinatoday.com.cn/ctenglish/2018/br/201803/t20180308_800120759.html