When we first went to China, we often asked young people what they wanted to do when they grew up. They would look at us with blank expressions on their faces and shake their heads and say, “I don’t know.” in a vague sort of way. We felt this was very strange and couldn’t understand it. Finally, we learned the answer. As in most places, China has college entrance exams for senior high school students. Those entrance exam scores determine which college or university the student will be able to attend. Not only does it determine which college or university they will attend, but it also determines what their major will be. Unlike in America, they can not go to community college and take basic courses for a couple of years and then go on to a four year college or university. My friend’s daughter wanted to major in some area of public health, but her entrance exam score was too low for this major, so they gave her a major in chemistry, even though she hates chemistry! And there is no way in China that she can change this major. She is in the process of applying to the University of Colorado.
Another friend had wanted to major in computers and she had been put in pharmacology. Now, she is a pharmacist and that’s where she’ll stay for life.
China lets the people think that they have freedom of religion, but don’t believe it for a moment. When Chairman Mao kicked out all the foreigners and closed the doors to outsiders, Christianity was considered to be a “foreign” religion and therefore not acceptable in China. “In 1951, a Cantonese Christian named Y. T. Wu 吴耀宗, (1893–1979) initiated the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, which promoted a strategy of ‘self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation’ in order to remove foreign influences from the Chinese churches and to assure the communist自治、自养、自传. The movement began formally in 1954 and allowed the government to infiltrate, subvert, and control much of organized Christianity” (quote from Wikipedia). The government that the churches would be patriotic to was the newly-established People’s Republic of China. The Three-Self is a characteristically Chinese way of abbreviating self-governance, self-support, and self-propagation.
In the Three Self Churches:
- The Communist Party decides who can preach and what can be preached.
- Preaching should focus on the social rules and the social benefits of Christianity.
- Preaching outside the Three Self church buildings is forbidden.
- Evangelizing or giving out tracts is forbidden.
- Importing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
- Printing Bibles without authorization is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
- Government officials cannot be Christian.
- School teachers cannot be Christian.
- Soldiers cannot be Christian.
- Police officers cannot be Christian.
- Children and teenagers cannot be Christian.
Under these rules these are not Christian churches. However, there are true Christian churches that have gone underground and meet secretly in member’s homes and when caught, these members will be punished with anything from losing their jobs and homes to being put in prison or sent to hard labor camps, where death is a real possibility.