China: “Christmas Is Forbidden, It's a Western Holiday”

February 10, 2022

On December 20, 2021, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) released the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Information Services on the Internet.” Adopted jointly with the Ministry of State Security and other ministries, these new measures will come into force on March 1, 2022.

Sermons, homilies, ceremonies, and training activities organized by religious institutions, monasteries, churches, and individuals may only be broadcast on the Internet after obtaining a special license from their provincial department of Religious Affairs.

It is also specified that no organization or individual may fundraise “in the name of religion” on the Internet. Online religious activities are also prohibited for all foreign organizations operating in China.

Furthermore, the religious information disseminated must not “incite subversion against the power of the State, nor oppose the authority of the Party, attack the socialist system and national unity, or threaten social stability.”

They must also not “promote extremism, terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious fanaticism.” Online communications must not “induce minors to become religious, or induce or coerce them to participate in religious activities.”

During the working sessions of the last National Conference on Religious Affairs in early December 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party, declared his intention to strengthen “democratic” control over religions.

In other words, to reinforce the religious repression of the regime. According to the new “Grand Helmsman,” the mass of believers of different confessions must unite around the Party and the government, rejecting all foreign influence.

Beijing's objective is to continue the “sinicization” of religions, a process officially started in 2015. In February 2021, the State Administration for Religious Affairs published the “Administrative Measures for Religious Personnel,” on the administration of the clergy, monks, priests, bishops, etc.

The Asianews agency, of the Italian Foreign Missions, announced on December 21 the limitations and prohibitions imposed on the celebration of Christmas in schools in Guangxi province. The Bitter Winter agency published on December 24, the official document released in Guangxi, as well as in different provinces and regions of China.

The measures have been applied also in the places of worship of the government-controlled Three-Autonomous Church (i.e. official "patriotic" Church), either under the pretext of Covid-19 or by implementing directives on the “sinicization” of Christianity which prohibits “Western” celebrations: “It harms our traditional Chinese culture.”

The confidential source who leaked the document to Bitter Winter, confirmed that students and teachers were not only prohibited from celebrating Christmas at school, but also at home. Similarly, those who know people celebrating Christmas were asked to report it immediately to public security, and an agent was appointed to handle the denunciations.