The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has released a new directive ordering all churches affiliated with the government-controlled Protestant Three-Self Church to pray for the fallen soldiers of the communist Red Army.
The new order required churchgoers to "carry out relevant peace prayer activities in a small and decentralized form according to local actual conditions and in compliance with local requirements" and "further promote the fine traditions of patriotism and love of religion, and demonstrate the goodness of Christianity in our country that loves peace."
According to Christian Headlines, the CCP is celebrating the "76th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War." This information was first reported by religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter.
In light of the celebration, the CCP released a statement that read, "In order to actively respond to the initiative of the Peace Committee of China's Religious Circles, a notice is now issued to the two Christian associations of all provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government)."
As part of the CCP's governmental control, churches were also required to "report the relevant activities (text, video and picture materials) to the Media Ministry of the National Christian Council of the People's Republic of China in a timely manner before September 10."
The new directive prohibits Christians from honoring the martyrs of the faith who fought during imperial China and those who were slaughtered by the CCP forces, lest comparisons would be made. They also threatened churches with the new mandate, which said they will face consequences if they fail to comply with the new orders.
UCA News reported that Japan's occupation forces fell in China in September 1945, after a bloody war carried out by Chinese nationalists and communists together with international powers that fought against Japan during World War II.
The nationalists "played a major role in the resistance" but were later defeated by the Chinese communists that took power in 1949 following the Chinese Civil War. Since then, China's CCP has been "eulogizing the soldiers of the communist Red Army while largely minimizing the role of the nationalists." Some of these soldiers had been Christians.
The Christian community in China continues to grow, even surpassing the number of Communist Party members, which is why religious materials have been labeled as contraband and are often confiscated. Those who are found to be in possession of such materials are held, questioned, and detained.
Moreover, Christian WeChat accounts were shut down by the CCP, while Bible apps have been removed from China's app store. Back in July, pastors were ordered to revise their sermons to include parts of President Xi's speech celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party. Global religious freedom watchdogs have repeatedly criticized China's repressive policies and actions against religious minorities, mainly Christians and Muslims.