China seeking to export Communist-style Christianity around the globe, warns religious freedom charity

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China's reported plan to export a Communist-Christian hybrid around the world has been met with concerns and warnings from Release International, a UK-based organisation that supports persecuted Christians globally.

In a recent broadcast training meeting for key pastors in China's Jilin province, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is reported to have urged church leaders to resist foreign church influences and so-called illegal religion.

They also reportedly advocated for "Christianity with a Communist core to be exported around the world" and to "change the face of world Christianity", according to Release.

According to Release, the Chinese government's policy of 'Sinicization' aims to compel churches to adopt the atheist ideology of the CCP, but the religious freedom charity warns that "atheism and Christianity can never mix".

Release CEO Paul Robinson said, "This push to give Christianity a Communist core is yet another attempt to control and dominate the Church and force it to conform.

"The policy is simply a smokescreen to mask the persistent persecution of the true Christian faith in China."

The CCP is suspicious of any Western missionary support and the underground church movement, deeming them to be 'anti-Chinese'.

Inside China, the policy of Sinicization has resulted in a ban on online religious content and the removal of over a thousand crosses from official churches.

Release says the Christian community is currently facing its most "severe persecution" since the Cultural Revolution, with pastors who challenge the government, and the lawyers who defend them, being sent to prison.

There are also reports of some churches being forced to display pictures of Mao and President Xi Jinping.

Yet China has witnessed a significant growth in Christianity, says Release, leading to reports that there are now more Christians in the country than members of the CCP and that large numbers are leaving the government-controlled Three Self Church each year in favour of joining unofficial house churches, despite the risks.

Some estimates suggest that the number of Christians in China has surpassed 100 million, possibly even reaching 130 million, accounting for almost 10 per cent of the country's population.

Mr Robinson said, "Release International continues to call on China to permit full religious freedom and release its Christian prisoners of faith – including lawyers who have raised legal challenges to the tearing down of crosses from churches."