China: The 2022 Olympics and Scientific Atheism

February 26, 2022
Mural depicting the Xiwanzi massacre

The XXIV Olympic Winter Games were held in Beijing from February 4 to 20, without the participation of several countries in the opening ceremony, – including the United States, Great Britain and Australia – which accuse China of human rights violations.

While during the general audience on February 2, Pope Francis spoke of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, hoping that they would contribute to the establishment of a more fraternal world. “Sport , with its universal language, can build bridges of friendship and solidarity between individuals and peoples of all cultures and religions.”

And he made the stirring statement: “Together, so that the Olympic Games be carriers of a more fraternal world.”

At the same time, Christians in Beijing confide that “clergymen are warned to be on the sidelines, to be silent, and to remain invisible in the public domain.” Indeed, the Chinese government views Christianity as a real threat of foreign infiltration.

The official churches were ordered to hoist the Chinese flag next to the cross and adapt their teachings to “Chinese socialist principles.” On February 2, the Catholic agency UcaNews announced “the promotion of a new manual on atheism in colleges and among the cadres of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in order to target organized religions and strictly apply Marxist policy.”

The manual, The Principles of Scientific Atheism, is at the center of a CCP campaign, UcaNews says, to implement “fully and faithfully” the decisions made at the National Conference on Religious Affairs last December. President Xi Jinping had then asked for the strengthening of the control of religions to ensure national security, and that the thought of Karl Marx be studied in depth.

The book promotes President Xi Jinping's theory that Chinese culture has always been non-religious, and it presents “scientific” explanations for “the non-existence of God,” and “the harmful effects of religion.”

This propaganda work includes an appendix on the “Principal theological knowledge and criticism of religion” and four chapters entitled “What is God?,” “Proof of the non-existence of God,” “The gods and their effects,” and “The religious and political theory of the Communist Party.”

Finally the book argues that Marx and the CCP in China have definitively demonstrated the principles of atheism: “religion is the opiate of the people.” This teaching manual is a real instrument of indoctrination and participates in active propaganda to promote atheism by force.

Officially, Communist China recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. The state requires that all religions and religious activities be strictly controlled by official religious bodies, and respect Chinese laws, that is, they are subject to the sinicization of religions introduced by Xi Jinping.

One of the main skiing venues during these Winter Olympics is in the Chongli-Zhangjiak district of Hebei province in northern China. Chongli resorts, located 180km northwest of Beijing, are a popular ski destination in the country, with nearly 3 million tourists a year. The Olympic Village of Chongli receives the Olympic delegations.

Most visitors are unaware that the beauty of the sites hides a tragic history, that of the persecution and massacre of Catholics, reports Eglises d'Asie (EDA) [Churches of Asia]. Chongli and the neighboring region of Chahar were the scene of the worst atrocities during the imperial era, during the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), during the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949), and during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) conducted under Mao Zedong.

In the second quarter of the 20th century, the establishment of communism in China opened a new period of persecution. The worst violence took place in 1946, when the Communists attacked the locality of Xiwanzi. Nearly a thousand civilians, mostly Catholics, were tortured and killed. Two years later, the Communists also ravaged Chongli.

After the Communists seized power, Catholics in the region continued to suffer abuse and persecution. In 1957, the Communists created the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, to control the Catholic Church in China.

Bishops, clergy, and faithful Catholics who refused to join the association [thus forming the so-called “underground” Church -- ed.]were mistreated and tortured. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, all religions, including Catholicism, suffered severe persecution, with most churches being demolished or damaged.

Catholics in Chahar were not spared even after the brutal campaign ended, reports Bitter Winter. From 1990 to 2011, a dozen clergy including bishops, and hundreds of local Catholics were arrested, tortured, and imprisoned in Chahar. Bishop Augustin Cui Tai of Xuanhua was arrested in 2013, his whereabouts are still unknown.

Recently, several social networks have evoked the forgotten Chongli massacre. A message recalls “the atrocious genocide committed by the Chinese Communists against the inhabitants of Chahar in 1946 where several thousand of our Christian civilians were massacred.”

Since this appalling crime, “they continue to persecute our Catholic Church and imprison our priests. They even want to use the region where this genocide took place, in Chongli, as one of the sites for their 2022 Winter Olympics, as if nothing had happened.”