Starting February 1, 2020, China will implement new rules applicable to religious groups. The updated guidelines apparently complete the “Regulations on religious affairs” that was implemented two years back on February 1, 2018.
The new religious rules
“Every aspect of the life of religious communities — from formation to gatherings, to annual and daily projects — is subject to approval by the government’s religious affairs department. In addition to widespread control of all community activities, the new measures require religious personnel to support, promote, and implement total submission to the Chinese Communist Party among all members of their communities,” according to Asia News.
In addition, religious groups are also required to spread the principles of the Chinese Communist Party, support the socialist system, and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The new rules were announced on December 30 when a prominent Chinese Christian pastor named Wang Yi was sent to nine years in jail for trying to “subvert state power.” What the new laws mean is that no religion can actually preach its teachings. It essentially doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or any other religious group since everyone will be forced to teach the same thing – the communist religion.
This comes on the back of reports that China is in the process of rewriting the holy books of major religions, including the Bible and Quran. Xi Jinping has declared that the ideologies of religions be interpreted according to the core values of socialism. Wang Yang, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, supervised a meeting of religious experts who attended the conference on modifying the texts.
Wang “urged the officials to build a religious system with Chinese characteristics.” The officials agreed with Mr. Wang’s directives, adding that the mission “is the choice of history.” They also claimed that by “re-evaluating” religious books, they would prevent “extreme thoughts” and “heretical ideas” from eroding the country,” according to the Daily Mail. Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International, criticized China for censoring religious books like the Bible and the Quran, pointing out that the Communist Party’s interference in religious affairs has essentially twisted the original doctrines of these faiths.
Religion in educational institutions
China has instructed all schools and universities throughout the country to pressure its students to give up their faith. Some university students who were found to be religious were threatened that they won’t get their graduation certificate if they carry on with their religious practice. In the province of Henan, around 170 children from two local universities were nabbed by the authorities this past year. 130 of these students were “transformed through education,” meaning that they have been forced to give up their religious activities.
“Resistance against [foreign] infiltration using religion into schools and prevention of mission activities on campuses has a bearing on the consolidation of the Party’s regime, on the major project of cultivating qualified builders and reliable successors of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and on the prospect and future of the state and nation,” a document adopted by a northeastern university reads (Bitter Winter).
The document declared that the use of religion by foreign forces to infiltrate China is not a religious issue but a political one. Students are prohibited from wearing religious clothes and teachers are banned from promoting any religion during their classes.