As Radio Free Asia reported on 3 August 2023, from 1 September 2023 all state-approved religious organizations have to follow new regulations for their venues and the religious activities carried out in them. In the full text of the regulations, as published by Bitter Winter on 7 August 2023, certain articles stand out as being particularly significant:
- Article 27: Members of the management organization of places of religious activity shall have the following basic conditions: (i) Love the motherland and support the leadership of the CCP and the socialist system; (ii)…
- Article 30: The management organization of a place of religious activity shall perform the following duties: (i) To unite and educate religious citizens to love the motherland, support the leadership of the CCP, practice socialist core values, adhere to the direction of the Sinicization of China’s religions, and abide by the Constitution, laws, regulations, rules and regulations and the relevant provisions of the management of religious affairs; (ii)…
- Article 36: Places of religious activity shall establish a study system, and regularly organize the personnel of the place to study the guidelines and policies of the CCP, national laws and regulations, Chinese excellent traditional culture, religious knowledge, and so on.
- Article 39: Religious activities shall be conducted in places of religious activity in compliance with national laws, rules and regulations, and the content of sermons and teachings shall be suitable for the characteristics of China’s national conditions and the characteristics of the times, and shall be integrated with the excellent traditional Chinese culture and reflect the core socialist values.
- Article 40: Places of religious activity shall, in the course of religious activities, strengthen the publicity and education of the sense of community of the Chinese nation, strengthen the use of the commonly used languages and scripts of the state, promote national unity and progress, guide religious citizens to enhance national consciousness, civic awareness, awareness of the rule of law, correctly distinguish between national customs and religious beliefs, and shall not use religion to interfere in the administration, judiciary, education and social life.
World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: “While it was clear for quite some time that new regulations were in the pipeline, the actual United Front Work Department text shows that the Communist Party is not only continuing its push for ‘Sinicizing’ all religious activity in China, but is also making a great effort to install Communist standards by which all religious venues, leaders and clergy are expected to abide. It is no longer surprising just how ‘naturally’ the Communist regime expects the support of all religious organizations; this reflects the fact that the government’s overall goal is total security for Communist Party rule. It will also be interesting to see how Article 39, which demands that ‘sermons should reflect the core socialist values’, will be implemented and supervised. It should however be noted that these rules apply only to state-approved religious organizations, which for Christians includes the TSPM on the Protestant side and CPA on the Catholic side. Non-registered religious groups are anyway seen as being illegal.”
Thomas Muller adds: “In possibly the strongest sign that Sinicization is not really about forcing Chinese culture into religion, but about harmonizing religious expression with Communist ideology, the beliefs one could describe as being the most original Chinese religion, Taoism, have not been spared from being ‘Sinicized’: The Taoist head office held its first forum on Sinicization in July 2023 (Bitter Winter, 8 August 2023).