Beijing is set to enforce a new set of rules in February which will require religious groups to “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party,” while all activities, rallies and programs must be approved by the Religious Affairs Office.
To increase state control over faith communities, religious organizations will further be required to educate their staff and congregations on supporting the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), AsiaNews reported.
According to AsiaNews, the new measures consist of six chapters and 41 articles covering the organization, function, and administration of religious organizations on the local and national level.
Once implemented, virtually every aspect of religious life will require approval from China’s Religious Affairs Office.
Specifically, article five of the so-called “administrative measures for religious groups” require that religious organizations “adhere to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party” and “implement the values of socialism.
Article 17, meanwhile, requires faith communities to “spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party,” while their staff and worshippers must be educated to support the party leadership and adherence to China’s socialist path.
“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,” a Catholic priest told AsiaNews.
The measures finalize China’s Revised Regulations on Religious Affairs, implemented in February 2018, which among other provisions, established punishments for those who used “religion to harm national security or public safety, undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation and conduct terrorist activities” in violation of the law.
‘Red market Catholic Patriotic Association’
Writing for Bitter Winter, an Italy-based magazine covering religious affairs and human rights in China, Massimo Introvigne argues that Xi Jinping has viewed religion as “a problem of national security,” and thereby seeks so-called sinicization — “the submission of religion to socialism and the CCP.”
Massimo argues that these regulations are intended to “eradicate” those Christian, Buddhist and Daoist groups not under state control, while “compelling the underground Catholic Church … to merge with the red market Catholic Patriotic Association,” which was not recognized by the Vatican until a deal was struck between the Holy See and Beijing last year.
That deal allows communist officials a say in the appointment of bishops and to enforce sinicization.
As persecution against Christians has reportedly ramped up since that agreement, critics have called on Pope Francis to repudiate it.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are further believed to have rounded up approximately 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, detaining them in camps in a bid to reshape their religious and political worldview.
The mistreatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority prompted condemnation from the European Union on Dec. 20, 2019.
China has also come under fire for clamping down on the homegrown Falun Gong spiritual movement amid reports since 2006 that thousands of practitioners have been imprisoned and killed for their organs.