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“Kick Christmas Out of China”: Christians face more challenges in the PRC

While China produces much of the world’s Christmas decorations, Chinese Christians are greeted with anti-Christmas processions and cumbersome bureaucratic paperwork that closes many church doors.

Chinese carrying banners that demand, “Kick Christmas out of China”. (Image: Whitworth University China Christian Missions Collection)

China continues to occupy headlines across the globe, but party officials within the Great Wall have taken little, if any, heed of international opinion. Media reports vary from anxious predictions of China’s economic rise to critical descriptions of police arrests of anyone who reveals the government’s falsehoods and offenses.

An article by the BBC predicts “Chinese economy to overtake US ‘by 2028’ due to Covid,” and the weekend briefing by the New York Times reports that a citizen journalist “who reported about the coronavirus from Wuhan during the lockdown, will face trial next week” because she “faces accusations of spreading lies” about China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Three other citizen journalists from Wuhan have recently disappeared. It brings to mind George Orwell’s depictions of the sudden disappearances of people who offend Big Brother in the despotic party state of Oceana.

Little news about China’s religious policies appears in the mainstream media, but much is happening. In addition to the notorious (but state denied) detention and re-education of Muslims in China’s northwest area of Xinjiang, and the persistent destruction of religious properties throughout the country, officials continue to support policies and campaigns aimed at controlling and eliminating Christian practice.

Recent weeks have seen processions of Chinese carrying banners that demand, “Kick Christmas out of China” (Shengdanjie gunchu Zhongguo 圣诞节滚出中国), with a leader carrying the national flag.

And, government offices now require churches to apply for permission to celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas. In the city of Wuxi, in Jiangsu, the local Catholic church was required to overcome a bewildering array of bureaucratic hurdles to receive permission to host a Christmas gathering. The certificate (image below), which finally granted the church permission to celebrate Christmas, reveals the byzantine administrative procedures that the pastor had to confront before his congregation was allowed to celebrate Christ’s birth – eleven red state seals were required before the gathering was approved.

Meanwhile, China’s city of Yiwu, known as “Christmas Town,” continues to produce much of the world’s Christmas decorations that adorn homes throughout the world. But while Yiwu’s tinsel and ornament factories crank out holiday cheer for export, China’s Christians are greeted with anti-Christmas processions and cumbersome bureaucratic paperwork that closes many church doors, even as trees beside the entrance remain illuminated with hopes for a better future for Christians.

In China, many faithful herald the agonized words of Lin Zhao, a prominent Christian woman who was executed during the Cultural Revolution after criticizing Chairman Mao’s policies. “As I silently rub the drops of blood on the wall, I can only find the right words when I think of that merciful and just God who is so far away, and yet so close.”

(Image: Whitworth University China Christian Missions Collection)

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About Anthony E. Clark, Ph.D. 51 Articles
Anthony E. Clark is an associate professor of Chinese history at Whitworth University and the author of China’s Saints: Catholic Martyrdom During the Qing, 1644-1911. He is also the host of the EWTN television series The Saints of China: Martyrs of the Middle Kingdom.

5 Comments

  1. The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences said in 2018 that “China is exercising global moral leadership in the principles of Catholic social teaching and defense of human dignity.” (Pope Francis signed another treaty with the Chines communist Government but the terms are secret. Lay Catholics overwhelmingly see Pope Francis as having betrayed and abandoned Chinese Catholics.)

    Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, an Argentinian, is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In an interview with Vatican Insider, he recently said that “at this moment, those who best realize the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

    Sorondo told Vatican Insider that he had recently visited China, where he says he found that “they [the Chinese] seek the common good, subordinate things to the general good.”

    “I found an extraordinary China; what people do not know is that the central Chinese principle is ‘work, work, work.’ …As Paul said: ‘he who does not work, who does not eat.’ You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not have drugs. There is a positive national consciousness, they want to show that they have changed, they already accept private property,” he said of his trip.

    The bishop said that the People’s Republic of China has “defended the dignity of the human person,” and, in the area of climate change, is “assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned.”

    Sorondo criticized the United States, where, he said, the economy dominates politics.
    With such leadership from the Vatican, it is no wonder that laypeople like me view Francis as, at the very least, a bad pope, and refuse to donate money to him which we have had proof that he has misused in the past.

  2. I sincerely hope that readers of The Catholic World Report will not take a simple-minded, easy, and perhaps self-congratulatory response to our economic relationship with China.

    On the one hand, it is easy to take a stance that proclaims that one will have no unnecessary economic relationship with a firm that does some of its manufacturing in China. On the other hand, such a stance may unwittingly deprive a faithful Catholic of the opportunity to earn an honest living under extremely difficult circumstances.

    • Mr. Flynn, there are any number of objections that can be raised against your remarks. Are Americans compelled to accept loss of their jobs and diminishment of their earnings to provide a higher standard of living for the people of China? For that matter, why does the economic well-being of the Chinese people need to be dependent on exports to the USA? Can’t they develop their own internal markets? Who, by the way, are the main beneficiaries of the enormous trade imbalances between the USA and China? It seems that the CCP, the managers of multinational corporations, the international banking cartels and the Biden family have reaped the lion’s share of the rewards, while the status of ordinary Chinese workers is often that of slave labor. What about the economic and national security consequences associated with outsourcing America’s industrial base to China? Certainly, there are some lessons from the “pandemic” that should be learned concerning our reliance on China for so many essential goods such as vaccines and medical supplies. I agree, however, that the issue should not be analyzed in a simple-minded manner.

  3. At least the faithful in China know that Francis, Parolin and the rest of the Vatican have their backs. And soon, a Catholic will be the leader of the “free” world. How could they not be consoled?

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