China’s Communist government is forcing churches to replace traditional hymns with songs praising the regime.
Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reports that earlier this year, multiple Three-Self churches in Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong received an order from the Religious Affairs Bureau prohibiting churchgoers from singing songs from the Worship Songs or Spiritual Song Collection. Instead, Christians were ordered to sing the Newly Compiled Hymns published by China’s Two National Christian Councils.
The director of a government-approved Three-Self church told Bitter Winter that the hymns in Worship Songs is mainly Bible chapters, while Spiritual Song Collection contains testimonies of experiences written by Christians.
But the Newly Compiled Hymns only feature themes about loving China, respecting the aged and parents, and celebrating birthdays and funerals.
“The hymns published by the government only promote political, secularized content. All believers are unwilling to sing them,” the director said, citing the chorus of one of the hymns as an example: “China is beautiful; China is great; the sons and daughters of China love China. … Bless China, O Lord.”
“Such hymns aren’t praising the Lord at all. They are entirely praising the country, and are no different from secular songs. Isn’t the government engaging in dishonesty and deceit?” the director said.
The censoring of Christian hymns has also been seen in other provinces and cities. In January, officials confiscated Canaan Hymns from some Three-Self churches in Chengde, Tangshan, and other cities in the northern province of Hebei.
Party members also prohibited the circulation and singing of Canaan Hymns and allowed only Christian hymns with Chinese characteristics.
Also in January, Christians in the central Henan Province complained that the government is forcefully turning churches into theaters, game rooms, and other types of entertainment venues.
Photos and clips circulated on the internet showed how pulpits across the country once meant to preach the Gospel have since been covered with Communist Party propaganda or turned into activity or entertainment centers.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett