Christians from Taiwan and China yesterday criticized a cross-strait Christian forum, saying the event was more political than religious, as only the Chinese “patriotic church,” which swears allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was invited to represent Chinese Christians.
“It’s regrettable that the so-called ‘patriotic church’ represents Chinese Christians in the cross-strait forum, while home churches — which represent a larger number of Christians in China — were not allowed to participate and are repressed in China,” Hsu Rong-feng (許榮豐), the moderator of the 58th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
“We are here to voice our concern and pray that genuine freedom of religion will soon flourish in China,” he added.
Hsu was referring to a cross-strait Christian forum hosted by the Dandelion Hope Foundation and other Christian organizations in Taiwan from Tuesday to Thursday in Taipei.
The patriotic churches in China should not be considered authentic churches of Christ, because they declare that they “follow the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and love the socialist fatherland,” while it should be more important to express love for God, Hsu said.
More than 90 preachers and ministers from China’s patriotic churches attended the forum, meeting with church representatives in Taiwan, while discussing possibilities for closer cross-strait Christian exchanges.
However, only those Chinese churches that swear allegiance to the CCP were allowed to participate in the forum, while all the home churches continue to be repressed, Hsu said.
“Do you know how the patriotic churches in China start their prayer? They begin their prayer with ‘thanks and glory to the Party’ — would any Christian in any other country start their prayers like this? It is ridiculous,” said Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏), chairman of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights and a Christian himself.
“The cross-strait Christian forum is a dividing force among Christians, this has become a war between God and the devil, and we must fight for God,” Yang said.
Yang added that the CCP is an secular organization, and he could not accept that a church would follow the leadership of an atheist regime, saying that it was “simply ridiculous.”
Yu Jiale (于迦勒), a Chinese preacher not affiliated with churches recognized by the Chinese government, labeled the forum an insult to the church.
“This so-called cross-strait Christian forum is in fact a unification propaganda tool. The CCP is obviously using religion as a tool to reach its ultimate goal of political unification,” Yu said.
“Pro-unification organizations claiming to represent the Chinese church in the forum is a humiliation and insult to our faith. Followers of Chinese home churches and pastors would like to express our strong protest and anger against such a claim,” Yu added.