Chinese authorities have viewed Christianity with suspicion for some time. They view Christians as potentially threatening political dissidents.
This has be a concern of the Communist Party of China. Online marketplaces within China have been removing the Bible. Beijing is restricting citizens’ practice of religion.
China has controlled the sale of Bibles in the past. Only state-sanctioned churches having the ability to print and distribute them. Online marketplaces were a way to sell them without state sanction.
This appears to have changed recently. JD.com, Amazon.cn, and Taobao show few or no results when searching for the Bible.
A senior research analyst, Sarah Cook, for East Asia at Freedom House described the bans. Cook noted the mismatch with religious freedom and online censorship. Religious topics, and other sensitive areas, are censored.
Cook found, “… the Chinese authorities increasingly using more high-tech methods to control religion and punish believers.” These methods can include surveillance or arrest of believers.
Only five faiths are recognized by the Chinese government. These are Catholicism, Chinese Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, and Taoism.
The Chinese Catholic bishops remain unappointed by the Pope. Beijing and the Pope have this continue opposition to one another. Relations between the Chinese state and the Vatican broke in 1951.
Yang Fenggang is the head of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. Fenggang explained, “It sounds like the opposition force within the Chinese authorities who oppose the Vatican-China relations have their voice.”
There appeared to be progress made in Vatican-China relations. Some purported this would happen around Easter. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
The banning of Bibles is in line with worrying developments in China about freedom to religion.
A public white paper asserted religions should “adapt themselves to the socialist society.” It continued, “Religious believers and non-believers respect each other, and live in harmony, committing themselves to reform and opening up and the socialist modernization, and contribute to the realization of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.”
Some work is being done to make a Sinicized Bible, a Chinese Bible. It would be along the lines of other faiths’ efforts to rewrite their holy texts to fit the atheist worldview of the Community Party of China.
Sarah Cook posits that this may backfire for the authorities. Chinese Christians tend to be apolitical. But these restrictions may make them go to external sources for the Bible and may also make them more outspoken against the Communist Party and Xi Jinping.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.