CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Communist Party reiterates ban on religious belief

BEIJING (SE): A series of articles published in the Global Times during July is reiterating the perpetual warning to members of the Communist Party that religious belief is blacklisted, as it poses a danger to the purity of Marxist atheism and can derail party direction and functionality.
 
“Party members should not have religious beliefs, but follow atheist Marxism; otherwise, they will be punished,” Wang Zuo’an, the director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, was quoted as saying by the Global Times.
 
Wang’s warning is an oft-reiterated one and reflects that despite the repeated threats, the issue is still a problem.
 
While essentially reiterating a communiqué from the Communist Party released in 2014 on the incompatibility of party membership with religious belief, it reflects that it is still viewed with suspicion and fear.
 
“Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members,” Wang wrote in an article published in the Qiushi Journal on July 15, recognised as being the flagship magazine of the Communist Party Central Committee.
 
He insisted that instead, “They should be firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party faith.” He then warned, “They are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion.”
 
Wang goes on to say that party officials who hold religious beliefs should be persuaded to give them up and those who resist should be made liable for punishment by the party machine.
 
In addition, party members are forbidden to support or become involved in religious affairs in the name of developing the economy or diversifying culture.
 
Zhu Weiqun, the chairperson of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, reinforced Wang’s comments, telling the Global Times that he believes the warning is a serious matter, as religious belief can do serious damage to the direction of the party.
 
“It is important that Wang constantly reminds party members not to have religious beliefs. Some people who claim to be scholars support religious beliefs in the party, which has undermined the party’s values based on dialectical materialism,” he was quoted as saying.
 
Zhu said he believes that once the party’s values are damaged, its unity, as well as the its basic policy to regulate religions will be sabotaged.
 
Wang also stressed the need for a firm political direction in managing religious affairs.
 
“Religions should be Sinicised,” he wrote. “We should guide religious groups and individuals with socialist core values and excellent traditional Chinese culture, and support religious groups to dig into their doctrines to find parts that are beneficial to social harmony and development.”
 
He then pointed to the danger of foreign influence gaining a foothold in religion, saying, “Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading in some places, which have threatened national security and social stability.”
 
Su Wei, a professor at the School of the Communist Party of China Chongqing Committee, agrees.
 
He specifically named Islam and Christianity as the main two troublemakers, adding that significantly they are not local religions, but have been brought into the country from other areas.
 
He told the Global Times the two religions have used their mosques and churches to deliberately spread their political views in China, explaining religious doctrine should instead be adjusted to match Chinese ethics and customs.
 
FP Media points out the regulation banning Communist Party members from religious belief is permanent and it has been suggested that more attention needs to be paid to members in the trouble spots of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Gansu Province, as well as the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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