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China: New ‘Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy’ mandates that clerics must support Communist Party

Persecution of Christians in China: this statement in the article below sums up an effort we have warned about at ChristianPersecution.com for a considerable period: “Compliant clergy is thus transformed into apparatchiks of the CCP, lured by rewards and terrorized by punishments. They will be called to ‘Sinicize’ their religions and preach love for the CCP to their devotees.”

The Chinese government has been acting with ever greater impunity against Christians. It is attempting to destroy Christianity and fashion a new religion that is superficially Christian but is actually a pliant tool of the Communist Party. This threatens all the Christians of the country, including the tiny community of Orthodox Christians in China.

China offers yet another instance of the persecution of Christians by governing officials that is unfortunately on the increase not only in China, but in all too many other nations around the world.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in China, see here.

“Enter the ‘Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy’: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid,” by Massimo Introvigne, Bitter Winter, February 11, 2021:

Here we are. Announced in November, and as usually published for collecting “comments” that never change anything substantial, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Clergy” will come into force on May 1.

They create an Orwellian system of surveillance, and strengthen the already strict control on all clergy. The tool is a national data base of the authorized clergy, meaning clergy trained and recognized by the five authorized religions. There is a complicated system to enter the data base, but those who are out of it and will claim to be clergy will commit a crime. This includes pastors of the Protestant house churchesCatholic conscientious objectors who reject the Vatican-China deal of 2018 and refuse to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, teachers and clergy at independent mosques and Buddhist and Taoist temples, Jewish rabbis (as Judaism is not one of the five authorized religions), and religious personnel of new religious movements. They will now be immediately identified: they will not have a clergy card, and will not be included in the national data base.

To be registered in the data base, it is not enough to be proficient in one of the authorized religions. The clergy should prove that they “support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and support the socialist system” (article 3: note that this article is repeatedly mentioned in the Measures as the key to the whole regulation), and cooperate in the fight against the xie jiao and other illegal or “extremist” religions (article 6E).

Things do not end when a clergy is registered in the data base. It is difficult to be registered, easy to lose the registration. As for being registered, a clergy will have special problems if s/he is part of the “high clergy” (provisions are stricter), particularly Tibetan Buddhist, or Roman Catholic. Tibetan Buddhists are reminded by article 15 that they should respect the principle that any reincarnation of a lama should be authorized by the CCP (we discussed this bizarre system in a previous article in Bitter Winter). In a slap of the face of the Vatican, Catholics are told by article 16 that bishops in China should be democratically elected through the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, i.e., appointed by the CCP, and consecrated through the Chinese Catholic Bishops Conference. There is no mention of the Vatican or the Pope, which in theory should appoint the bishops under the Vatican-China deal of 2018, renewed in 2020. Also, the socialist principle that those of teach in a religious community should submit to the “religious teaching guidance” of the community rather than the other way round is proclaimed by Article 43.

Once registered, the clergy enters an Orwellian world whether loyalty to the CCP and love for the Party is assessed periodically, in a system similar to social credit. The clergy receives awards and punishments, and if the latter exceeds the former registration in the data base is lost and worse consequences are threatened.

Compliant clergy is thus transformed into apparatchiks of the CCP, lured by rewards and terrorized by punishments. They will be called to “Sinicize” their religions and preach love for the CCP to their devotees. Not much will be left of genuine religion—which is precisely the aim of these and other previous measures….

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