This is the reason why the Chinese are considered to be the most irreligious country.

What’s your religion? We have none, but certainly not atheists, though. Whatever your religion is, there’s a great chance that you’re part of it due to evolutionary happenstance. We mean, you’re more likely religious as a matter of your birth into it. Or it isn’t? Don’t judge us too soon, we’re trying to make a point. Have you ever wondered why your country isn’t a religious state, but all citizens practice faith. Or, what if your country suddenly declared itself a non-religious state? Dear friends, the People’s Republic of China is the only country in the world that’s officially a non-religious state.

Related media: Is China An Atheist Country?

Thou Art Atheist, Not Religious

The freedom of religion is one of the basic civil rights that all people are entitled to in most countries, and China is no exception (the constitution allows religious beliefs). But here’s the catch: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forbids the practice of religious gatherings across the country. Practitioners — all religious organizations, from state-sanctioned to underground and banned groups — could face intensifying persecution, repression, and pressure to adhere to the party’s ideology.

According to article 36 of the Chinese constitution, it states that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief.” However, it bans and forbids state and public organizations, or individuals from compelling citizens to believe in — or not to believe in — any particular faith. In other words, you can believe and practice your religion, but don’t openly do so or impose it on others. Sounds fair, right? And in 2018, regulations were passed on religious affairs that allowed state-registered religious organizations to possess property, publish literature, train and approve clergy, and collect donations.

But according to experts, religious observance in China is on the rise, despite the restriction on religion, it only creates the emergence of a spiritual vacuum that could trigger a growing number of religious believers, particularly, that of Christianity and traditional Chinese religious groups. Religious restriction in China includes the following: religious schooling, the times and locations of religious celebrations, as well as monitoring of online religious activity and reporting donations exceeding 100,000 yuan (US$15,900). Thinking of tax on religions?

Whence Cometh Religion?

Image: Mark Leong

You might be asking, so how is religion practiced in China? Short answer: pretty weird! Nonetheless. According to the Human Rights Watch director in China, religious belief in China is protected by the constitution, the measures do not guarantee the right to practice or worship.” However, religious organizations are to register with, and supervised by the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) which recognizes only five religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and Protestantism; and the practice of any other faith is formally prohibited.

Although practices are limited to “normal religious activities,” but “normal” in this context could be complicated. The government even keeps a tally of all religious believers in the country, and this number is estimated to be roughly 200 million people (that’s less than 10 percent of the population), according to sources. This number is set to be steadily increasing at an accelerated rate.

However, according to the research and advocacy group Freedom House, there are more than 350 million religious believers in China, mostly made up of Chinese Buddhists, followed by Protestants, Muslims, Falun Gong practitioners, Catholics, and Tibetan Buddhists — with Buddhism and Daoism, and other folk religions being seen as the most authentically practiced Chinese religions.

Religious Ban In China

Image: WION News

The CCP is officially atheists, and has pushed to “sinicize” religion throughout the country, thus it’s officially a sin to practice religion in China, but it isn’t a crime to believe, though. We wonder what Satan thinks of this. Good news? The party even forbids it’s members from holding religious beliefs, and has even expelled party members who belong to religious groups. Party officials have even outlined all necessary requirements for it’s members, and discourage families of CCP members from publicly participating in religious activities.

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, the CCP wants to shape all religions to conform to the doctrines of the party and the customs of the majority Han Chinese population. In early 2020, new regulations were passed that required religious groups to accept and spread CCP ideologies and values; and religious organizations must now get official approval before conducting any religious activities.

Last but not least, (and as expected) China is home to the world’s largest population of religious prisoners per capita, roughly numbering in the tens of thousands of convicts in custody, if not tortured or executed, according to human rights activist groups. And due to the arbitrary detentions and violence carried out with impunity on most religious convicts, the United States’ State Department has even declared China as a country of particular concern over religious freedom” annually since 1999. According to the CCP’s official newspaper, it warned party members from putting faith in religion, labeling it as “spiritual anesthesia.” At least, they believe in spirits. 

What do you think of China’s religious ban? Let us know in comments.

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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Tue, Mar 31, 2020.


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