Covid And Christianity In China. A Strange Parallel.
China's policy towards Covid-19 is very clear. It is defined as a “zero Covid” policy. The steps to achieve that are:
- Firstly, the virus is defined as an enemy, which is good and sensible. Therefore in any community where there are cases of the virus, particularly recently with the new Omicron variety which spreads so fast, communities are locked down and will stay locked down until there are no cases. That means an entire city, or a region of a city, will be locked down if even a few cases are found. “A single case in a border town led to 200,000 people being locked down” (The Guardian).
- Secondly, mass vaccination is mandatory.
- Thirdly, regular PCR testing, sometimes repeatedly of millions of people, is enforced.
- Fourthly, leaders who fail in prevention steps are punished. “The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that 26 people in Xi’an were being held accountable for failing in their efforts to prevent and control Covid.”
- Fifthly, the government narrative is that there are no originally indigenous cases in China, but that outbreaks are caused either by foreigners coming into the country or even, recently in Beijing, by a parcel sent from overseas.
Though figures are suspect, particularly in terms of the number of deaths in the early days in Wuhan, the policies seem to have resulted in success in terms of, if not eradicating the virus, at least keeping numbers low. Will that continue? “China will have great difficulty with Omicron and a zero Covid policy,” Tulio Oliveira, director of South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.
It is surprising but sad to observe that the Chinese government's policy towards Christianity seems to be very parallel to their Covid-19 policy.
- Increasingly Christianity is defined as an enemy which must be met by zero tolerance, as though the Communist Party regards faith in Jesus Christ as a virus which is not to be tolerated, as it infects the healthy body of Chinese Marxism defined by the thoughts of chairman Xi JinPing. Thus communities, in other words churches, have been closed down, like cities or communities facing the Covid virus.
- Secondly, increasingly ‘vaccination’ is mandated by forcing government recognised churches to teach from the pulpit only that which aligns to Xi JinPing's thought. Recently a brother shared how a church he had visited in a Chinese city had to teach Marxist doctrine during the service, which was attended by security policeman. Only after the policeman left could a genuine Christian meeting begin where the Bible was taught.
- Thirdly, increasingly there is testing by monitoring on the Internet and sophisticated checking of Apps like WeChat for any sign of the ‘Christian virus’. March 1st will see new and very strict regulations largely banning Christian teaching from the Internet
- Fourthly, leaders (pastors and evangelists) are often punished by arrest or removal.
- Fifthly, there is a parallel narrative to the Covid story that Christianity comes from the outside and is not indigenous, even though for decades now the Chinese church has been led by Chinese citizens who live and serve the Lord inside China.
The parallel in the Chinese government's attitude to Covid-19 and to Christianity is a sad one. One virus needs to be removed from China. The other needs to spread like wildfire from east to west and north to south. It has done so for decades and by the grace of God will continue to do so, whatever ‘vaccination’ might be used against it!
Pray for the Chinese leadership if, in Xi JinPing's own words, corruption is the greatest danger to the Communist party, that they would understand that the only way to change men's hearts is by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray for China's church, that it would know how to grow in this difficult time.
Pray for non-Christians in China, that they would have access to the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially young people, and would not be vaccinated by anti-Christian propaganda.