Lawmaker warns of Chinese communists changing the Bible

Open bible Credit Ryk Neethling via Flickr CC BY 20 CNA 5 7 15 Ryk Neethling via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party warned on Thursday of efforts from the Chinese government to subvert Christianity by changing parts of the Bible. 

“The Chinese Communist Party is rewriting the Bible,” Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, said in a pre-recorded message to the biannual gathering of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago held Aug. 14 through Aug. 18.

Gallagher discussed two examples in which the Chinese government has rewritten parts of the Bible and taught it as fact. In one example, he noted a misrepresentation of the account in the Gospel of John in which Christ says, “Let he among you without sin cast the first stone” when a woman is accused of adultery.

“It’s a beautiful story of forgiveness and mercy — unless, of course, you’re a CCP official,” Gallagher said. “Then it’s a story of a dissident challenging the authority of the state. A possible sneak preview of what a Bible with socialist characteristics might look like appeared in a Chinese university textbook in 2020. The rewritten Gospel of John excerpt ends not with mercy but with Jesus himself stoning the adulterous woman to death.”

As the Union of Catholic Asian News reported in September 2020, a textbook published by the CCP-run University of Electronic Science and Technology Press falsely asserted that the story ends with Christ stoning the woman to death, declaring himself to be a sinner and saying “if the law could only be executed by men without blemish, the law would be dead.” 

In another example, Gallagher said that local CCP officials in the Henan province of China forced churches to replace displays of the Ten Commandments with quotes from President Xi Jinping.

“Quotes like ‘thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ became diktats like ‘resolutely guard against the infiltration of Western ideology,’” Gallagher noted. “... Xi Jinping has no problem with the First Commandment just so long as he and the CCP are playing the role of God.”

The Holy See entered into a two-year provisional deal with China in 2018, which was renewed in 2020 and 2022. However, some Vatican officials have warned that the deal does not ensure enough religious freedoms for Catholics. In April, a bishop was appointed to Shanghai without Vatican approval, but Pope Francis eventually approved the appointment in July. 

Gallagher noted that the CCP only legally recognizes five faiths but that less established religions face even more persecution than the legally recognized ones. For example, he noted that “at times, half of the population of China’s reeducation through labor camps, or modern gulags, were Falun Gong adherents, and thousands were reportedly tortured to death.” He also referenced the persecution of “Buddhists and Muslims in the far west of the country [who] are facing, quite simply, the attempted annihilation of their faith and in some cases their population.”

Despite the persecution of religious groups in China, Gallagher also noted that faith still persists in China.

“I’ve heard unthinkable stories of religious persecution,” Gallagher said. “But I’ve also listened to accounts of underground churches, brave clergy, and steadfast believers every bit as courageous as saints of the early Church.”

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