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China May Retranslate Bible to Include Buddhist Teachings in Bid to “Sinicize” Christianity

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The Chinese government is planning to incorporate Buddhist and Confucian teachings into a new translation of the Bible, according to a Christian human rights activist based in the United States, Buddhist Door reports.

In a statement to Congress, Reverend Bob Fu, founder of the human rights watchdog organization China Aid, said on 27 September that under a five-year plan drawn up to give the Chinese government more control over the growth and influence of Christianity in China, state-sanctioned Protestant bodies the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the Chinese Christian Council (CCC) aim to promote “the Sinicization of Christianity.”

The plan, finalized in March, will be supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs according to Rev. Fu:

“Every province, autonomous region, and municipality’s TSPM and CCC seminaries and churches will cooperate with it. The plan made it clear that ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ means to change ‘Christianity in China’ into ‘Chinese Christianity,’” Rev. Fu told members of the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. “[The plan] emphasized that ‘the heart and soul of Christianity’s Sinicization is to Sincize the Christian theology,’ and even proposing to ‘re-translate the Bible or re-write biblical commentaries.’”

Rev. Fu is a former house church leader who immigrated to the United States from China in 1997.

The Chinese government plans to “retranslate” the Old Testament with some Buddhist scripture and Confucian teachings and new commentary for the New Testament, Rev. Fu explained in his written testimony.

“There are outlines that the new Bible should not look Westernized and [should look] Chinese and reflect Chinese ethics of Confucianism and socialism,” he said. “The Old Testament will be messed up. The New Testament will have new commentaries to interpret it.”

Rev. Fu noted that new regulations enacted in February require all religious activity to be conducted under “the guidance, supervision, and inspection of relevant departments of the local people’s government regarding the management of personnel, finances, assets, accounting, security, fire protection, protection of relics, health and disease prevent and so forth.”

State officials have called on some 20,000 underground house churches to close and join the state-sanctioned church, said Rev. Fu, adding that leaders of these churches must pledge their loyalty to the Communist Party.

Amid widespread moves to bring religious activity in China under tighter state regulation, all five officially recognized religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism—have come under increased state scrutiny and interference, with efforts being made to discourage “Western” and “chaotic” thinking and ideas deemed harmful to social harmony, and to “re-educate” ethnic minorities to become more “Sinicized,” as President Xi Jinping seeks to cement party loyalty at the grassroots level.

“Religious freedom in China has really reached to the worst level that has not been seen since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution by Chairman Mao [Zedong] in the 1960s,” said Rev. Fu. (The Christian Post)

According to data for 2014 from a survey by the China Family Panel Studies under Peking University, 73.6 per cent of the population are classified as either non-religious or practicing Chinese folk religions—including local cults to deities and ancestors, Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism. Officially sanctioned Buddhism accounts for 15.9 per cent, other religions (including folk salvationism and Taoism) account for 7.6 per cent, Christianity accounts for 2.53 per cent, and Islam 0.5 per cent.

Among the many difficulties surrounding sourcing reliable data about religion in China is that many Han Chinese do not classify their spiritual beliefs and practices as “religious,” and often do not adhere exclusively to a single spiritual practice or tradition.

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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access

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Iran imposed an almost complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day, The New York Times reported.

The death toll for the three days of protests rose to at least 12; hundreds were injured; and more than 1,000 people have been arrested, according to semiofficial news agencies like Fars News.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state matters, called the demonstrators “thugs” and endorsed the government’s decision to raise prices it sets for rationed gasoline by 50 percent as of Friday and by 300 percent for gasoline that exceeds ration limits. Even after the price hike, gasoline in Iran is still cheaper than in most of the rest of the world – now the equivalent of about 50 cents a gallon.

In a speech on Sunday, Khamenei said he would support rationing and increasing gas prices because heads of three branches of government had made the decision.

Khamenei also acknowledged that Iranians had taken to the streets to protest and that some had died – however, he blamed the protests on monarchists and opposition groups trying to destabilize Iran, the Times added.

The widespread discontent on display across the country marked yet another crisis for the country. Iran has been struggling with an economic crisis after the United States exited a nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions that ban Iran’s oil sales.

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HASC Chairman Claims Legislation to Create a Space Force in 2020 ‘Still Possible’

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said last week that negotiations on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act are “proceeding reasonably well” but he expressed doubt that the NDAA will include language to authorize a Space Force as a separate military branch, SpaceNews reported.

“It’s still possible but by no means guaranteed,” Smith told reporters on Capitol Hill last week. When asked for specifics, Smith said, “I don’t think it would be helpful for me to make predictions.”

The biggest sticking point in the NDAA negotiations is language in the House version of the bill that restricts the use of military funds to pay for the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border, SpaceNews adds.

There are other dealbreaker issues. The authorization of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces is one of them, Smith said. Other contentious matters include extending the “war powers” legislation that authorizes the president to use military force, and allowing transgender people to serve in the military.

Smith said the House and Senate NDAA conference in recent weeks worked on compromise language on hundreds of provisions and “reduced the stack significantly, and we’re down to a few really contentious issues.”

Smith characterized the Space Force as a “higher echelon” issue that is proving divisive. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate continue to have reservations about the administration’s Space Force proposal, said Smith. “There is bipartisan concern on the proposal and bicameral concern about the specifics of that proposal.”

The House version of the NDAA creates a Space Corps and is closer aligned with what the administration proposed. The Senate bill would rename the Air Force Space Command the U.S. Space Force and does not specifically authorize a sixth branch of the armed forces.

Smith noted that the House has been a proponent of a military space branch since 2017 while the Senate had adamantly opposed it. “In their bill they didn’t have the same language that we did. But the president has persuaded them to look at it differently.”

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Gunman Kills Four at California Backyard Party

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Police in the California city of Fresno were investigating a mass shooting at a football game party on Sunday in which at least 10 people were shot, killing four, with five others left in critical condition and another wounded, Reuters informs.

Three men died at the scene and another died at a hospital, Fresno Deputy Police Chief Michael Reed said in a late night news conference. Six more were hospitalized, he said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this thing,” Reed said. “This was senseless violence. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who the perpetrators were and bring them to justice.”

A gunman walked into a backyard and started shooting at a south Fresno home, where a gathering of about 35 family and friends was watching a football game before 8 p.m., said Reed. Neighbors soon flooded 911 dispatchers with calls for help, Reuters adds.

The suspect fled the scene and police were combing the neighborhood for witnesses and possible security camera footage, police said. Police did not release further information about the shooting in the city about 200 miles (320 km) north of Los Angeles, except that the dead were men between the ages of 25 and 35.

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