2018 年 64 巻 1 号 p. 40-55
To control Christians and their religious activities, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) established the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) committees in 1954 and required Protestant churches to register with these committees. However, the number of non-registered house churches has been growing rapidly since the end of the Cultural Revolution. During the first decade of the 21st century, new house churches, whose leading members are students and intellectuals, developed in large cities. This paper studies the Chinese government’s response to the development of Protestant churches.
The national government has devolved the mandate to develop religious policies to local government in order to address concerns about Protestant churches. Provincial governments have a mandate to establish regulations for religious affairs, and some have established regulations that allow local churches in their jurisdiction to receive donations from Christian organizations abroad. Local governments adopt these policies in order to encourage Protestant churches to supply welfare and public services to the residents instead of the government.
In 2001, the CCP central committee decided to build networks of religious affairs management among governments of counties, townships, and villages to post religious affairs staff to a grassroots community. However, local governments have not been willing to build these networks or strengthen the management of Protestant churches for the following reasons. First, local governments want the churches to provide public services. Second, they emphasize economic development rather than religious affairs management in their jurisdictions. Third, they have been ordered to reduce and simplify government organizations by the central government; hence, it is difficult to increase the number of staff members assigned to religious affairs.
On the other hand, some local governments and churches registered with TSPM committees have begun to approach individual house churches directly. TSPM churches provide pastoral work, services, and materials for some house churches. The government is trying to apply this approach across the country, but even some pastors of TSPM churches have doubts about this approach because some house churches fundamentally do not want to involve with the government or TSPM churches. Meanwhile, some local governments scout out house churches and order them to dissolve if they have connections with hostile forces abroad.
Through these analyses, this paper reveals that the Chinese government has been confronting challenges in implementing policies for church affairs management because each stakeholder has different priorities.