Christians in China continue to grow in number despite the government’s crackdown on Christianity.

Official records said there are 44 million registered Christians in the communist country, but US human rights group, Freedom House, believed that the Christian population could be about 100 million since there are many underground Chinese Christians, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

Experts noted that many converts to Christianity came from rural, impoverished areas, especially in provinces where government aid is hard to come by. Meanwhile, Chinese people living in cities join Christian churches where they feel welcomed and become active members of a group who share the same values and vision.

The CCP is subtly changing our faith. —A Tree-Self Church preacher

Christians from the village of Huainan, a city in Anhui Province, fill their days with prayers, hymns, Bible studies and confession. They believe in the doctrine of Christianity that one follower said, “Communist Party leaders and chief executives should learn the teachings of the Bible.”

China has been trying to suppress the growth of Christianity in the country by implementing laws that inhibit the practice of the faith. Officials believed that Christianity is a way for Western ideas to infiltrate its culture and corrupt the minds of its citizens.

Recently, preachers of Tree-Self Church were forced to prepare their sermons based on The Analects Encounter the Bible, a collection of teachings and ideas attributed to Confucius, reports Bitter Winter.

The Religious Affairs Bureau of Yuzhou city in the central province of Henan issued copies of the Analects to let the preachers study the Chinese philosopher’s teachings and apply those to the teachings of the Bible. Some state-run churches were required to have classes to formally study the Analects and integrate Confucian teachings into their sermons.

However, Christian communities argued that the Analects distorts the doctrine of Christianity and misleads believers. Church leaders believed that demanding them to incorporate the Analects into spreading the Good News is a way for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to “sinicize” Christianity.

A Chinese pastor living in the US, Liu Yi, has warned Christians about the Chinese government’s hand in tainting the teachings of Christianity. “In 2015, I wrote multiple articles exposing the conspiracy behind this activity, and explained that it is intended to help the CCP promote the ‘sinicization of Christianity’ in churches.”

A Tree-Self Church preacher said, “The CCP is subtly changing our faith. Since reading the Bible is now the same as reading the Analects, doesn’t it mean it suffices to read the Analects and to believe in Confucius? This is the erosion of Christianity.”

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Joyce has more than 15 years experience writing news, industry articles and blogs for the private and public sectors. Most of her career was spent writing technical documentation for a software company in the Philippines. She earned a B.A. in Communication Arts with a concentration in writing from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños. During her leisure time, Joyce pursues her interest reading fiction and playing with her dogs. She can be contacted at Joyce@onechristianvoice.com.