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China promotes new book on atheism targeting religions

'The Principles of Scientific Atheism' defends 'the non-existence of God' and 'the harmful effect of religion'
China promotes new book on atheism targeting religions

'The Principles of Chinese Atheism' by Li Shen argues that Chinese culture has always been non-religious. (Photo: Bitter Winter)

Published: February 02, 2022 07:28 AM GMT
Updated: February 02, 2022 08:13 AM GMT

China’s officially atheist government is promoting a new textbook on atheism in colleges and among Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadres in order to target organized religions and strictly implement Marxist policies.

The Chinese-language book, The Principles of Scientific Atheism by author Li Shen, is part of a CCP campaign for a “full and faithful” execution of the decisions of its National Conference on Religious Affairs last December, reported Bitter Winter.

The book, which reportedly took six years to write, promotes President Xi Jinping’s theory that Chinese culture has been always non-religious and his insistence that Karl Marx’s views on religion should be thoroughly studied within the CCP.

During the December conference, Xi also instructed the CCP leadership to increase surveillance of online religious affairs and tighten control of religions to ensure national security.

Li Shen’s book includes an appendix on the ​​“Main Theological Knowledge and Criticism of Religion” and four chapters titled “What is God,” “Proof of the Non-Existence of God,” “The Gods and Their Effects” and “The Communist Party’s Religious Theory and Religious Policy.”

Zhu Xiaoming, former secretary of the CCP Leadership Group of China Tibetology Research Center, wrote a preface for the book.

Religions and religious groups have face increased repression since Xi Jinping became president in 2013

In the book, the author presents arguments offerng scientific explanations for “the non-existence of God” and “the harmful effect of religion.” It also argues that Marx and the CCP in China have definitively demonstrated the principles of atheism as described in Western and Chinese philosophy.

Author Li, 76, who earlier penned books including History of Chinese Science and History of Chinese Atheism, is known as an intellectual and advocate of state-sponsored atheism in China. He supports the CCP’s promotion of “Confucianism as a form of atheism.”   

Li has worked at the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and was the director of its Confucianism Research Office. He then was a professor in the department of philosophy at Shanghai Normal University and vice-chairman of the Chinese Atheism Society. He is also an academic committee member of the International Confucian Federation.

His new book aims to assist the CCP in achieving its long-term goal of ensuring Chinese universities shift from “neutral” study and education to active propaganda to promote atheism as advised by Marx, who famously said: “Religion is the opium of the people.”

Officially, communist China recognizes five organized religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. The state requires all religions and religious activities to be strictly controlled by official religious bodies and to abide by Chinese laws.

Religions and religious groups have faced increased repression since Xi Jinping became president in 2013. Under his rule, the CCP has adopted draconian polices and legislation to intensify crackdown on religions.   

In 2018, the CCP enacted New Regulations on Religious Affairs that stipulate strong surveillance of religious organizations and penalties for clergy and laypeople for engaging in any activity the state deems illegal and unauthorized.

The state has also strongly promoted the strict implementation of the policy of Sinicization in all religious entities.

Sinicization is a political ideology that aims to impose strict rules on societies and institutions based on the core values of socialism, autonomy and supporting the leadership of the CCP.

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