ucanews.com reporter, BeijingUpdated: August 06, 2018 06:23 AM GMT
China's nine major religious organizations advocate that all religious sites must raise the national flag. Clockwise from top left are a Buddhist temple, Muslim temple, Protestant church, Taoist temple and a Catholic church. (Photo supplied)
China's nine major religious organizations want all religious sites across the country to raise the national flag on special days to reflect patriotism and Sinicization.
But some Catholics claim the initiative aims to force religious people to be patriotic. "Is it necessary to train believers to hold the ritual of raising the national flag and to play the national anthem before they can hold religious activities?" one priest asked.
The official Catholic Church in China website quoted a report from the website of the Central United Front Work Department saying that the Sixth Joint Conference of the Country's Religious Groups was held on July 31 in Beijing. Wang Zuoan, deputy director of the Central United Front Work Department and director of the State Religious Affairs Bureau, addressed the meeting.
A joint statement was issued by all nine government-sanctioned religious organizations: the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China, National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, China Christian Council, China Young Men's Christian Association Countrywide Association and the Young Women's Christian Association.
They propose raising the national flag at all religious venues to help religious figures and believers strengthen their national consciousness and civic awareness, deepen their political, ideological and emotional recognition of the Communist Party and the country, and adhere to religious Sinicization.
Nine major points were proposed in the initiative:
The initiative also calls for national religious groups to act together and take the lead in setting a good example in accordance with the national flag law.
A Catholic in Hebei Diocese in central China described the initiative as "a political incident as politics directly interfere in religious internal management. Convening a national meeting for promoting this practice means it is mandatory and has to be nationally implemented."
He said that raising the national flag at churches started after crosses were demolished in Zhejiang province. The practice was then launched in Xinjiang province and is now being promoted nationwide.
Paul, a Catholic in the underground church, said the initiative is a mandatory practice after incidents of Protestant and Catholic churches being demolished and all religious venues in Henan province being required to be registered.
He thought the Chinese government would take further steps soon. "The Communist Party is planning to eliminate religions in China step by step, and even if all religious venues are preserved, they may just be external religious frames. We should clear our eyes to see that."