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Chinese religious groups pledge to follow communist regulations

State-sanctioned groups vow to implement the spirit of the CCP's National Conference on Religious Affairs
Catholics in Shandong province attend national security training in April

Catholics in Shandong province attend national security training in April. (Photo: chinacatholic.cn)

Published: June 13, 2022 08:18 AM GMT
Updated: June 13, 2022 08:28 AM GMT

Seven state-sanctioned religious groups have issued a joint statement assuring that they will adhere to management of religions, including supervision of religious institutes, finances and properties, in line with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) guidelines on religious affairs.

The statement titled “National Religious Organizations Common Initiative on Cultivating Frugality and Abstaining from Extravagance” aims to implement the spirit of the CCP’s National Conference of Religious Affairs held last December, says a report from the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) on June 9.

During the Dec. 3-4 conference, the first since 2016, President Xi Jinping called for the strict implementation of Marxist policies, increased online surveillance and tightening control of religion to ensure national security.

He also stressed the importance of better control of religions to ensure all groups abide by Chinese laws and regulations while rooting out social networks for religious proselytization or criticism of the government’s religious policy.

The signatory groups — Chinese Buddhist Association, China Taoist Association, China Islamic Association, Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Chinese Catholic Bishops' Conference, China Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and China Christian Council — also vowed to remove barriers that hinder the Sinicization of religion.

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

The statement also underlined “a self-examination and moral revolution” for adherents of all religions in China by following public order and good customs to serve society and the state

The statement noted that though religious circles across China have adhered to make great efforts over the strict management of religions, an “unhealthy trend for greed and extravagance” has tarnished the social image of religions and eroded the “foundation of religious inheritance.”

“We need to thoroughly implement the spirit of the National Conference of Religious Affairs and great speech of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping to effectively ‘curb and reverse’ the bad atmosphere pertaining to religions,” the statement said.

The groups agreed to implement a four-point agenda — practice frugality and thrift, environmental protection, strict adherence to regulations on religious affairs by religious groups and clergy, and to maintain Chinese characteristics, belief connotation and cultural forms of religious institutes and architecture.

The statement also underlined “a self-examination and moral revolution” for adherents of all religions in China by following public order and good customs to serve society and the state.

Communist-ruled China is officially an atheist state. However, it recognizes the legal presence of five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. The government tightly controls religious groups through state-run bodies and a slew of regulations on religious affairs.

The 2018 regulations on religious affairs require all religious groups and clergy to be registered with the state and make any religious activity without state permission illegal and a punishable offense.

For decades, Chinese authorities have persecuted religious groups and cult movements, terming them illegal and a threat to national security.

In recent years, authorities have intensified a crackdown on religions including Christianity for refusing to adhere to socialist policies of the CCP and for declining to join state-sanctioned religious bodies.

US-based Christian group Open Doors ranks China as 17th among 50 countries that persecute Christians most severely.

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