Battling Against Cults
The following article written by Murong Xuecun titled: “China’s Clampdown on ‘Evil Cults’”, addresses the current issue of Christianity being infiltrated into China, which was coined as the ‘American Trojan Horse.’
Xuecun, Murong. “China’s Clampdown on ‘Evil Cults”” New York Times 14 June 2014. New York Times. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/opinion/murong-chinas-clampdown-on-evil-cults.html?_r=0>.
Xuecun begins this article describing particular events where the Chinese authorities have had to enforce their power against these Christians. The first example that the author illustrates is the author’s friend was arrested on June 1st 2014, who was a Pastor for the Early Rain Reformed Church. The reason for the arrest was for ‘illegal advertising’ when he was caught distributing anti-forced-abortion leaflets. In another separate occasion on May 28th 2014, in Zhaoyuan in Shandong Province, a woman (Wu Shuoyan) was beaten to death inside a McDonald’s restaurant. Group members who are classified as a Christian Sect under the banner of the Church of the Almighty God beat the aforementioned female, Wu Shuoyan. After this violent altercation, the Chinese government released an interesting document stating that there were twenty active ‘cults.’ This document would snowball into negative propaganda being brought forth by the television and newspapers, which later got community organizations and village authorities warning the public on the dangers of ‘evil cults,’ which were the Christians. The real reason for the document according to the author was that it was “…a concerted effort to bring independent churches and their followers into line. The clampdown is simply the government’s way of strengthening its control of society.” It is important to know that the Chinese government does have ‘legal’ churches that are managed by the government where most of the clergy were trained at state-sanctioned seminaries. But even though they are legal churches, they are still not safe from this crack down on Christianity. Both ‘illegal’ and ‘legal’ churches are seen as a threat to their national security. According to Ye Xiaowen, the former head of the State Bureau of Religious Affairs, is known for contributing Christianity to ending the Community rule in Poland, therefore his fear was that history would repeat itself in China.
In the textbook, “Understanding Cults and New Religions,” Hexham and Poewe state that cults are, “a group that has beliefs and/or practices that are counter to those of the dominant culture” also that these “beliefs and practices may be in opposition to those of a subculture.” So by the first definition, Christianity could be seen as a cult to the Communist culture of China, but on the flip side in regards to the second definition, Christianity would not be in opposition of the beliefs and practices of the subculture as Christianity is a subculture of China. It is very interesting to see how government can use its authority to use the ideology to contrast a religion into a grouping with a negative connotation. There will also be people who twist and alter the true meanings and purposes of religion, but in regards to Christianity in China, I believe those who are not in actual sects or cults are trying to make a difference in this otherwise Communist country.