President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party-led Chinese government are reportedly stepping up efforts to shut down organized religions.
In February, China’s parliament passed regulations regarding religious affairs in an attempt to demand loyalty to the Communist Party and remove “Western” influences. Earlier in September, China announced new rules including a ban on text, images, audio, or video with religious connotations on the internet.
The Chinese constitution guarantees religious freedom and currently recognizes only five major religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam and Protestantism, all of which are impacted by the regulations.
International NGO, Human Rights Watch, has also reported approximately one million Uighur Muslims are being politically indoctrinated in mass detention centers.
In addition, Buddhist and Daoists are being banned from building large religious statutes or investing in commercial enterprises.
Chinese law requires religious believers to attend officially registered services, though there are many sects of “underground” non-registered churches. Many of the targeted churches are Protestant denominations, which total approximately 38 million adherents in China.
The government in Beijing is attempting snuff out Protestantism by destroying Christian crosses and bibles and shutting down churches.
Finally, China, which has historically disputed the Vatican’s authority to appoint bishops, is now separating sects of Catholics within the country.
There are roughly 12 million Catholics in China, many of whom are members of churches not officially approved by the Communist Party. Churches deemed “illegal” are being bulldozed and some priests are being accused of releasing the personal information of their congregants to the government, including financial data and any “foreign influences”.
[Washington Post] [Reuters] [AP] [AFP via South China Morning Post] [Photo courtesy Wayne Mcallister/ABC]