A year had passed, but the ghost of rumors is still wandering around in the Chinese Christian world. Although some rumor-making, official Wechat accounts had been restrained to some extent, the hyping-up of rumors had been more this year. Below is the author's summary of this year's rumors.
Amongst this year's rumors that were widespread, some were existing ones (eg. CCTV's evangelizing) or others had the content changed (e.g: false celebrity's testimonies) but had similar patterns. Some, on the other hand, appeared for the first time. They were not only jokes during meal times but severely affected the faith life of churches and believers.
#10 Senior government officials converted to Jesus.
Last year there were some rumors of "Senior Officials" converting to the Lord, and this year those continue. However, the content was changed from Mr. Fan to Mr. Zhao from the world of finance. The motivation was the same though--pushing evangelism forward because of the wishes of high-level officials who were converted. The hyping-up was vicious.
This rumor was very soon rejected and many people pointed out that, from the experience of Mr. Zhao, he could not be a senior official. And many years ago there was a rumor of him being the "Secretary of the Prime Minister", but this rumor had no factual basis. Obviously, there are people making this up in order to increase the hype.
#9 CCTV shared the gospel.
This rumor had been there for a while. People had hyped this up based on some Christian content from China's state broadcaster CCTV or other major media, ignoring the authenticity of news reports, the rigor of the documentary or the artistry of Film and TV Music works. They thought this was evangelizing.
Except for the continued hype over the episode of Jesus in Humanity, Our Own Story, there were rumors this past year that Christians players in FIFA and Christians in the National Conference of Chinese Christian Representatives as well as other organizations were praying. Some believers mistakenly believed these and forwarded related information.
#8 Human body chips are the sign of the beast.
This rumor was not new at all, but its influence had continually increased. There were more people forwarding and more media channels propagating this rumor. They connected high-tech human body chips with the devil's seal in Revelation. They thought there were undisputable connections between these and thus treated this as the sign of the end of the world.
The general interpretation, however, is that the devil's seal refers to agreeing to the Anti-Christ's values and being His follower. Having the devil's seal did not necessarily mean there were any physical marks. Therefore, high-tech human body chips and the devil's seal were totally different things. This rumor came from a severe misunderstanding of the Bible.
#7 Christmas rumors flew around.
Almost every year, there are many rumors started in order to dismiss or resist celebrating Christmas. Many Christians refuted these out of a passion for their faith. But comparatively speaking, this year the major media organizations dispelled these rumors in a timely fashion. Some articles were blocked because of the rumors that resulted.
There were fewer rumors from outside the faith, but rumors within Christianity increased. Besides pushing the major media to introduce Jesus and other similar things, as had occurred in the past, there were people making up false testimonies from the time of the Nestorians during the Tang Dynasty. Some people said Lu Dongbin who followed Taoism was actually a Christian. There were even people who, out of the need to be apologetic, said that it was understandable why rumors were started.
#6 Weather/celestial phenomena and doomsday omen
At the beginning of the past year, following the appearance of the red moon, some people connecting this with the doomsday omen. In addition, extreme weather appeared in different areas, and this made even more people feel that doomsday was coming.
However, these were actually all normally occurring natural phenomena. They had often been seen in human history and there were no major earth-shattering changes. Therefore this was also a rumor resulting from a misunderstanding of the Bible, and it caused some people to panic.
#5 Jack Ma converted to Jesus.
This rumor of a celebrity's converting to Jesus was often seen and heard. Kim Jong-un's conversion might have been the most exaggerated one for last year, and the Jack Ma rumor should be that for this year.
In May of this year, Jack Ma went to the Western Wall and prayed. This was hyped up into a rumor that Jack Ma was a Christian. Suddenly numerous people, even including some university professors, started forwarding links. Despite the Western Wall not being the most venerated place for Christians, how could Jack Ma be a Christian when he was worshipping different kinds of gods and as well as Buddha? At most, he went to the Western Wall to experience the local culture. His going there might simply be for him adding one more god, one more way.
#4 The Bible will be distorted.
In April of this past year, there was huge panic because of the ban for many online bookshops such as Jing Dong and Taobao on selling the Bible. Many people created rumors from this saying that the Bible would be reinterpreted and would be added to some irrelevant content.
When some sisters saw other versions of the Bible in the church rather than the Chinese Union Version, they spread rumors that distorted Bibles had appeared. Many believers were angry about this.
Actually, this kind of rumor was not new at all. In the past, there were people making rumors that the Bible printed by Amity Printing Company did not contain the books of Daniel or Revelation. Still, other hyped-up rumors of distorting the Bible were similar. So do not be confused by these rumors.
#3 Nouns about Christianity were "sensitive words".
After the National Day break, on some Christian online platforms, there was explosive news coming from different churches. Common Christian words such as Hallelujah, Amen, Jesus, etc. became sensitive words. The rumors were that people who spread these words would be monitored or even have their ID's blocked.
Some rumor makers themselves also claimed that they had acquired inside information, that there would be a large monitoring resulting in the clearing of religion-related information. This rumor immediately caused huge panic. Some Wechat group names were changed if the name was related to the Christian faith. As well, some churches were traumatized when faced with this great calamity.
However, after one or two days had passed, everything remained the same. People were still sending different kinds of faith content and there was nothing serious such as had been rumored. The spreading of this rumor exposed the weak nerves of many Christians and their ignorance of religion policies.
#2 Poor Preachers
Because of the special situation of churches in China, preachers in some poor, conservative areas live simply and in poverty. Their miserable situations gradually became known by some Christian media.
However, some people used this opportunity for fraud. Sympathy for poor preachers was used to hype up rumors. Within written articles messages for donations were sent out, begging brothers and sisters to support poor preachers. Out of a heart of love, some saints trusted these rumors and suffered economic loss. This cast doubts on those situations of poor preachers that were genuine. At the end of this past year, some people started fund-raising activities for collecting "donations", saying that some pastor or preacher who found it difficult to make ends meet or who faced a severe health issue needed help. This all had a very bad effect.
This kind of rumor extended to Catholics as well. For example, there was a Catholic who had caught a disease. Some people then started collecting donations using his name. Because of this, rumors of "poor preachers" cheating for money would continually ferment. Hopefully, brothers and sisters will be more alert toward this.
#1 The Bible Was Banned.
People suddenly queued up at bookstores in churches to purchase Bibles. There were even people who purchased Bibles by the box, causing them to be sold out in many bookshops. Although there were shepherds, pastors and co-workers persuading believers not to buy books blindly, the buying frenzy could not be stopped. Some "scalpers" were even selling Bibles for a much higher price. Besides, this caused international attention from church groups who asked church leaders to clarify the situation.
Actually, there was a problem that had been ignored for a very long time, namely the printing of Bibles in mainland China by churches rather than by social printing organizations. Therefore these Bibles were deemed "in-house" materials without serial numbers. As a result, according to regulations on publishing and printing, they could not be sold on online platforms. They were forced out because of the timing, for online bookshops were being reorganized.
Amity Press continued printing Bibles for different churches in China this past year, and the author in July personally saw Bibles being printed. So the rumor that the Bible was banned was false.
- Translated by Ze Wang