China Passes Tighter Restrictions on Religious Practice

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The Chinese Communist Party has passed a series of draconian administrative measures for religious groups, which will go into effect on February 1, 2020, bringing them completely under government control.

Religious organizations must henceforth “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party” by educating “religious staff and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party,” reported AsiaNews, the official press agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

All religious activities or rallies and even programs of religious communities must have the approval of the Religious Affairs Office, according to a communication published this week by Xinhua news agency, as the new measures seek to complete the “Regulations on religious affairs” that went into effect on February 1, 2018.

The government’s religious affairs department will assume absolute control over religious groups and “should perform their functions such as guiding and supervising the groups’ operation,” Xinhua revealed Monday.

More broadly, the new regulations “stipulate how the groups should designate their officials, carry out their work and manage their own affairs,” the report stated.

The “Administrative measures for religious groups” consist of “six chapters and 41 articles dealing with the organization, functions, offices, supervision, projects and economic administration of communities and groups at both a national and local level,” AsiaNews said Tuesday.

Every aspect of the life of seminaries and religious communities will now be subject to approval by the government’s religious affairs department, including the formation of programs, gatherings, and daily schedules.

In addition to tightening control over all community activities, the new measures will require religious personnel to actively promote submission to the Chinese Communist Party among all members of their communities.

Religious organizations “must adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, observe the constitution, laws, regulations, ordinances and policies, adhere to the principle of independence and self-government, adhere to the directives on religions in  China, implementing the values ​​of socialism,” declares Art. 5 of the regulations.

Furthermore, all religious organizations “must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” reads Art. 17.

As one Chinese Catholic priest commented to AsiaNews, “In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim or Christian: the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party.”

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