by Bishop Michael Chang of Fukien, translated by H. A. Wittenbach (?)
Church Missionary Society Archives, ASE AC2: East Asia Secretary’s personal and confidential correspondence 1938-1949
(transcribed by Michael Poon)
Return to SKH Sources
Handwritten note from H. A. Wittenbach to Rev. L. G. Fisher: "Herewith the translation of the booklet put out by Bp. Chang for all church workers in Fukien to help them answer questions by government officials and others . . . "(Dated: 6-2-50)
Q. 1 What is the Diocese of Fukien? Where was it founded? How long is its history?
A. The Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui is entirely autonomous. Chinese nationals administer its finances and depend upon the whole body of Church members. The Diocese of Fukien is one of the fourteen dioceses of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui and seeks to promote the affairs of Christianity. The Diocese of Fukien was founded in 1850 and has thus in history to date of 99 years.
Q. 2 What is the extent of the Diocese?
A. Foochow is the centre. In the north Pao-shing, Chung An, Shui Chi, Kienyang, Kienow, Chinghuo, Tsung ch’i, Kutien, Pingnan; to the east Futing, Choyung, Chiuning, Fuan, Siapu, Ningteh, Loyuan, Lienkong; to the south Putien, Sinyao, Futsing.
Q. 3 How is the diocese organised?
A. The organisation is completely democratic in three stages, since there are parochial districts and diocesan councils, the members of whom are elected annually by the votes of accredited men and women church members. The diocesan synod is the highest authority in the diocese and meets annually to transact the important decisions of the diocese, matters arising between meetings of synod being dealt with by its Standing Committee. For the promotion of evangelism, education, medical and charitable work, sub-committees were appointed as follows:
Men and women’s evangelistic committees, Board of Education, Medical Board, Foreign Missionaries Committee, Religious Education Committee, Canons Committee, Building Committee, Charity Board, Finance Committee, Relief Committee, etc.
Q. 4 What connection have European missionaries with the diocese?
A. for the most part the missionaries in the diocese come from England, sent by the Church Missionary Society at the request of the diocese for special posts, the consent of the Bishop having first been obtained. Thus every department of the work of the diocese is under the control of Chinese, the missionaries coming in the position of helpers. Moreover, their names and position to which they are appointed are entered in the diocesan lists of members and officials and, for the period of their service they are officers and members of the church in the diocese of Fukien and not of any English diocese. As such, they are under the control and discipline of the Foreign Missionaries Committee and of the Bishop of Fukien. There are twenty-one missionaries in the diocese, not counting families, mostly engaged in medical or evangelistic work.
Q. 5 What are the principal activities of the diocese?
A. There are four main activities: preaching the Gospel, education, medical work, and charitable work.
Q. 6 What is the financial position of the diocese?
A. The diocese regards self-support as a fundamental principle. Although the Church Missionary Society still makes grants, they are small in amount and, moreover, are gradually being reduced. Such grants are principally for evangelistic and educational work. As regards the work of evangelism, foreign contributions constitute about one fifth of the cost, the remaining four fifths being met from the free-will offerings of the church members. Apart from this, the cost of building and of medical and charitable work receives but an insignificant contribution from the Church Missionary Society, the main burden resting on the diocese.
Q. 7 What is the position of the diocese as regards buildings and property?
A. In the early days the Church Missionary Society sent missionaries to Fukien to preach the gospel and most of the schools and hospitals were built by the Society. Afterwards, when the diocese assumed full responsibility for its finances and control, the Church Missionary Society several times proposed to transfer the ownership of the property to the diocese, and the diocese, through the General Synod of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, applied to the previous Nationalist Government for registration as a legally constituted body to hold property. Unfortunately the Nationalist Government made no provision for the registration of religious bodies. So such registration could not be effected. In effect, however, all the property is under the control of the diocese and is administered by it. All schools and hospital properties are used by the diocese at its discretion. All churches are entirely built and owned by the Diocese.
Q. 8 What are the basic principles of Christianity?
A. The basic principles of Christianity are best explained under three heads.
The faith of the Church is based upon the Bible and the Prayer Book. The faith of the Christian is clearly set out in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. There are five main point.
a) Belief in God who is the source of everything, the underlying truth of the universe, the enriching and sustaining power by which the material universe continues to exist.
b) Belief in Jesus Christ the manifestation of the love of God, who came to this world to save men and is the savior of mankind.
c) Belief in the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of God by whom is made known to men the will of God, who leads men and everywhere works with them.
d) Belief that the Church which Jesus came to found and which is a close fellowship of those who believe in Jesus, irrespective of race and class, is a manifestation on earth of the Kingdom of Heaven.
e) Belief that the Bible is the record of God’s revelation and is the chief way and foundation of man’s knowledge of God.
The foundation of Christianity is the boundless love of Jesus Christ, its basis from the teaching of Jesus on love to God and to men. It believes in the supreme value of man, in the goodness of his nature and in his boundless capacity for progress, Freedom, equality and love are the basic principles on which Christianity believes society should be established and it strives to advance all policies and movements that are in harmony with these principles.
(3) The Life of the individual
In the wisdom and strength of God to be faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, following the example of his life of love, sacrifice and service, and to bear witness to the truth.
Q. 9 What is the purpose of Christianity? (lit. its commission)
A. The purpose of Christianity is to proclaim to mankind the Gospel of Christ’s salvation of the world, the nation, society, and the individual, as manifested in the life of the individual and the church; to strive for the eradication of the roots of evil in society and the destruction of darkness and inequality in the old society, for the release of all who are oppressed until we attain to our final goal the creation of a new heaven and a new earth wherein there is freedom, equality, love and light.
Q. 10 What should be the attitude of Christians to the New Age?
A. In this New Age Christians should:
(1) Strengthen their faiththat is, understand and strengthen their faith (as set out heretofore) and set it forth in their daily lives so that they will stand firm under any trial.
(2) Recognize the times in which they live.
Religion is not a department of life but permeates the whole of life. Therefore outside the narrower limits of religion we should stake a keen interest in administration, finance and other aspects of the life of society, recognising that they are intrinsically linked with the fact and progress of our religious faith. And we should study with open mind the new aspects of the established order so as to be able to appreciate their new value.
(3) Reform themselves
We should avoid conservatism. Where there are errors we should at once correct them. In this new age of the people (People’s Government era) we must study diligently with a view to progressive changes in ourselves, that we may the better truly serve mankind. We should pay heed in the stirring up of this spirit of service that we may seek the good of all people.
Q. 11 Can you produce any documents or facts in support of claims for “freedom of belief” and “preservation of church property”?
A. They are listed as follows:
1. In the book “Concerning Cooperative Government” by Mao Tse Tung, published by the Liberation Society, speaking of central control three propositions appear:
(a) “The people of China . . . must seek the abolition of everything which restrains peoples freedom of discussion, publication, association, meeting, thought, belief, and person, so that the people may gain full power of freedom” (p. 37)
(b) “The people’s right of discussion, publication, assembly, association, thought, belief and person are the most precious of freedoms, and in China are manifest only in the liberated areas”. (p. 67)
(c) “In accordance with the principle of religious freedom, the Chinese liberation district guarantees the continuance of every religious denomination, whether Christianity, Roman Catholicism (sic!) Mohammedanism, Buddhism or other religions, provided the adherents observe the laws, the government will grant its protection. Believers and unbelievers each have freedom. Compulsion or discrimination are forbidden” (p. 100)
2. Mao Tse Tung in “The New people’s democracy”, referring to the government of the New People’s democracy writes:
“China . . . needs to establish a true, universal, and equal franchise without discrimination of sex, faith, property or education, in harmony with the place of every stage of the revolution in the nation, in harmony with the expression of the will of the people, and their enthusiastic revolutionary struggle, in harmony with the spirit of the new people’s democracy.”
3. A government proclamation (Section 8 of the laws) states:-
“For the preservation of the life and property of the people, all sections of the community, regardless of class, creed or occupation, must preserve order willingly cooperating with the Liberation Army.”
4. On 26 February 1946, the Communist representatives in Chungking, Chou En Lai and Tung Pieh Wu, in a letter to the House of bishops of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui, wrote:
“The Communist Party definitely accepts religious freedom, those inside and outside the Church equally enjoying the full privileges to which they are entitled.” (The full text of this letter is given in the appendix.)
5. At the first meeting of the Political Consultative Council, held in Peking on 21 September, 1949, the following Christian delegates attended (this being common knowledge).
(a) Shen Li Lan, representing Shanghai
(b) Wu Yiao Tsung, Tang Tsu Chi (a woman), Chang Sueh Yen, Lin Liang Mo, Chao Tsz Shen (a clergyman of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui) representing members of religious bodies. (Religious bodies had seven representatives, five from the Christians, and two form the Buddhists).
(c) Lung Pu Shang (a woman) representing the amalgamated society of women’s organisations in China delegate of Hoppo.
6. On 21st September, at the first meeting of the People’s Political Consultative Council, of the 89 present, only one was a Christian. Wu Yiao Tsung, Secretary of the National Y.M.C.A., and he was chosen as chairman. On 30th September, Mr. Wu (the only Christian delegate) was elected as representative of the Political Consultative Council on the National Assembly. This National Assembly established after the termination of the P.C.C. is the highest body in the People’s Government.
7. On 29 September, 1949, the fifth section of the first chapter of “The Leading Principles of Cooperation”, approved by the first meeting of the P.C.C., states: - the people of China agree that the people shall have freedom of ideas, discussion, publication, assembly, association, correspondence, person, dwelling, progress, religious belief . . . ”
Appendix I. Recent Speeches by Wu Yiao Tsung, Tang Tsu Chi, Shen Li Lan
On July 4 1949 50 leaders of Shanghai Churches met in the Shanghai Y.M.C.A. to welcome from Peking three friends , Wu Yiao Tsung, Tang Tsu Chi, and Shen Li Lan, and to invite them to address the gathering. They were delegates of the Christian community to the Political Consultative Council. Messrs Wu and Shen also acted as liaison officers between the government and the church. They are thus well acquainted with the thought of the “New Age”. We are therefore giving an account of their talks and discussions on that occasion.
1. Mr Wu Yiao Tsung
The new age in which we are living is completely new, and quite unlike pervious “change of dynasty”. For the first time in our national history, the people are the rulers. (Although the immediate circumstances do not yet agree with this, yet this type of revolution is unmistakable, and will shortly be completely apparent). We ought to rejoice in this.
We must know that this happy revolution because of the resistance of the evils has made but slow progress. Moreover the completion of this revolution requires approval of the power of Communism. We must also understand the Communist principles that have not yet been realized, namely the Marxist doctrine that socialism is a necessary precursor to Communion and that we are now entering upon the first of these two stages, the era of the New People’s Democracy the new democracy as distinct from the capitalistic class control. Under the old system, though in name there was political equality for all, in fact all control was in the hands of the capitalists, since there was no economic equality. Because of our deficiency in material goods, our nation is as yet unable to enter into the era of socialism. Thus in the New People’s Democracy small capitalists and private enterprise will be encouraged, only the large-scale heavy industries being under government. The principle of the agrarian revolution (the farer owning his own fields) has not yet been realized in most of the liberated areas, since too speedy a change might not be right. The social revolution in the Soviet Union originated with the property-less class; in our country, apart from the labouring class, all other classes cooperate in the escape from the restraints of the present stage of half-and-half. Thus the New People’s Democracy is not the rule of one dominant group but a “united front”. The general principles will be decided by the government and this autumn the united government will be inaugurated. To this every class and every democratic society will send representatives, though naturally the Communist Party will direct affairs.
The attitude of the new government towards Christianity will be, in accordance with the published direction of the Communist Party, one of religious freedom. This is not a temporary order but is sincere and permanent. In the view of the Communist Party, Christianity is a real social force capable of cooperation and therefore they will earnestly try to utilise this power of cooperation. In Marxist doctrine religion is not a permanent factor in the life of a materialistic society and eventually will disappear as it proves unnecessary. Therefore the Communist recognises that religious persecution is a mistaken policy of government. We have seen our church suffer hardship, almost to destruction but this was due to the fact that local leaders, before the establishment of the united government could not understand the will of the higher officials and was the result of sectional and ignorant restraints.
2. Tang Tsu Chi
China women have a prominent place in the New Age, which have won for themselves by their participation in the revolution. Formerly the women of North China were so much under the restraint that they could not take part in such movements, while their husbands and sons were in the front lines, they had to carry on the work in the fields. But later they were able to assume responsibility for various important non combatant duties in the army. Educated women are now working energetically on a complete footing of equality with men. A certain woman engineer engaged in repairing dykes said: “every person who is in a community has his use.” The women in the Liberated Areas have seized for themselves a place in society, and no longer are dependent on their husbands. They are a living force in the New Democracy State and the National Women’s Union is an established fact. The women’s group has an important place in the councils of the new government. Although women under the new government will take a larger share in productive work and public enterprise, they will continue to pay heed to their family responsibilities. Actually some duties are not as important as some other duties, but family life must be preserved. The new marriage laws pay special attention to the rights of women. Monogamy is recognised as the legal principle, and both husband and wife have a responsibility in the home. Divorce will not be easy. In the new society the task of women will not be to strive with men for equality of status, but rather to consider what their special contribution is to be to the social revolution.
(3) Shen Li Lan
The military phase of the Liberated Area will be completed in about three months’ time. Conditions vary from place to place and there will be different methods of dealing with foreigners. The progress of the armies has been surprisingly quick, but to deal with financial matters ad the life of the society in the best way cannot be hurried and here we must be personal and sympathetically understanding.
There are four classes in the new democracy: workers (labourers), farmers, small capitalists (including intellectuals and small traders) and national capitalists (of national value, not capital manipulators and money masters).
The Communists have a general understanding of the religions of our country. They regard the Mohammedans as a racial minority group, Taoism as more superstition of no importance, the roman Catholics are under the orders of the Pope, the Buddhists are without organisation: therefore they pat particular attention to the Protestants. The reason for their interest in Christians (distinct from Roman Catholics) is that there are enlightened, and can cooperate with the government of the New democracy. Thus in the Political Consultative Council there are seven religious representatives, two of the Buddhists and five of the (Protestant) Christians.
As regards education, the first task is the restoration of the standard. Peking has already some experience, all higher grade institutions being open, including the People’s Revolutionary University, the North China University, etc. Over ten thousand students are enrolled at the North China University, many of them university teachers engaged in post graduate research. All military training in schools in North China has been stopped and a committee of higher education has been set up. Another committee has been set up to edit and prepare all school text books for publication this Autumn for experimental use in North China. The most significant thing is their students who before liberation ate good meals yet complained of hunger now eat sparsely but are cheerful and contented. Under the New People’s Democracy the youth groups are at the centre of the students governing body and in schools above middle grade no other student organisation is permitted. The Communists plan to secure from the New Youth Groups to draw out an enthusiastic youth section and therefore there is a strict screening of applicants for membership and students of doubtful characters are not admitted. The membership of the communist groups in North China is now known and everyone knows who becomes a member of the Communist Party or of the youth groups, and because they are so careful their conduct is correct.
Religious teaching and worship will not be forbidden in schools, but must not be compulsory. Many schools are encountering difficulties but this is because the authorities in the schools make known their opposition to the liberation movement.
Difficulties about fees have been solved. Private schools may fix their scale of fees but must grant free scholarships to students who are genuinely poor. With regard to contributions from abroad the government has given no indication that this will be forbidden, but foreign missionaries may not exercise control over the schools. Institutions of higher learning must have boards of governors. Middle and primary schools will be under the control of the principals, but he must be assisted by a school committee, the membership of which will be mostly members of staff, but student representatives will be include. When matters concerning school servants are discussed, representative of the servants will also be present.
Yenching University is given special help and encouragement by the People’s Government in recognition of its enthusiastic welcome of the establishment of the new government and this is an example of the close cooperation possible between a Christian institution and the new authorities.
(4) Points from replies of Mr Wu and Mr Shen to questions:
(a) The government has not yet stated whether or not a Western missionary may be on the Board of governors of a Christian institution, but it is quite certain that he may continue in the teaching staff
(b) Mr Wu promised to take up with the government in shanghai the question of whether a missionary who had been located to China and hoped to come out during the Summer might still come. Mr Wu promised to act as liaison between the Christian churches and the Shanghai government in the same way as he has previously helped in Peking.
(c) Schools in Peking which had carried on their work without closure need not reregister with the government.
(d) Since the Coalition Government had established diplomatic relations with foreign countries, there would be no difficulty about Chinese delegates attending world conferences.
(e) Not only did the Communists practice regular and searching self-criticism, but they also welcomed genuine friendly criticism from outside.
Appendix II Letter from delegates of the Communist Party to the House of Bishops of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui
Editorial Note: The Bishops did not receive the letter at the time of their meeting. This event was recalled in Item 6 of the Minutes of the Joint meeting of the House of Bishops and the Standing Committee of CHSKH, June 30, 1950 held in Central Theological School:
Item 6: Photograph of Messrs. Chou and Tung's letter to the House of Bishops. The secretary reported that in March 1946 when the House of Bishops met in Shanghai, the delegates of the Communist Party were attending the Political Consultative Conference in Chungking, Messrs. Chou En-lai and Tung Pi-wu sent a letter to the House of Bishops, but it was delayed in the mail. the Secretary on his way back to Chengtu met Mr. Pu Hua-jen [a former CHSKH priest from Shanghai who became Communist -- MP] in Chungking and told him that the House of Bishops had not received siuch a letter and requested for another one. The requeset was complied with. As a result the House of Bishops received two similar kinds of letters, two photos were taken. Resolved that to avoid misunderstanding in the future, the Secretary be requested to record all these in detail. (CMS Archives, Ch g O1)
To the Bishops of the House of Bishops of the Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui
During the eight years of the war of resistance Chinese and western preachers and the church members in the occupied areas have suffered great hardships at the hands of the enemy, provoking men to deep sympathy: truly the church has displayed great self-sacrifice. At the same time all church leaders and church members have contributed money and engaged in works of healing and benevolence on behalf of the freed areas deserving the highest praise. Now as we commence the task of post-war reconstruction, our party guarantees freedom of belief and the enjoyment of full legal rights to all men within or without the church, and trusts you will send pastors, doctors and teachers, etc. into our areas to share in the ask of reconstruction or to come and establish churches, hospitals and relief centres, and they are assured of a welcome. Moreover they will receive every assistance. We earnestly pray that you will help. Though the beliefs of the church differ from those of our party, we are one in our service of the people. Especially do the Christians love the people and encourage the building up of character and they are tireless in good works. All of which we strongly approve. This first post war assembly of the House of Bishops must have onerous new schemes for the resuscitation and development of the church to help the peaceful democracy group to achieve a united new China, and quickly establish it truly there is a Hard road to be followed.
Wishing the assembly every success,
Signed; Chou En Lai
Tung Pieh Wu
Delegates of the Chinese Communist Party
26th February, 1946