In a controversial move, China's ruling Communist Party has directed its nearly 90 million members to shun religion for maintaining party unity, warning that religious belief is a "redline" for the cadres and those who resist would be punished.
China’s ruling Communist Party has directed its members, who sum up to around 9 crore as per the official figures, to quit religion or face punishment. Issuing directions to its members, the head of China’s top religious affairs regulator said that party members should not practice religion and those who have religious beliefs should be persuaded to give them up. While China’s constitution allows the practice of religion, its ruling party, Communist Party of China, has adopted a resolution that members will remain firm Communists and won’t practice religion at all. “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a redline for all members…Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party’s faith…they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion,” Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) wrote in an article released in the Qiushi Journal on Saturday.
In clear terms, Wang wrote that officials who have religious faith should be persuaded to give it up, and those who resist would be punished by the party. Order gains significance as it comes at a time when the members are expected to attend party’s 19th Congress in October this year. President Xi Jinping, who heads the party and the military, is likely to get elected for another five-year term in the Congress. Issuing a stern warning, Wang said the party members are also forbidden from supporting or getting involved in religious affairs in the name of developing the economy or diversifying culture. “We should guide religious groups and individuals with socialist core values and excellent traditional Chinese culture to dig into their doctrines to find parts that are beneficial to social harmony and development,” Wang said.
Zhu Weiqun, a senior party official, said, “It is important that Wang constantly reminds Party members not to have religious beliefs. Some people who claim to be scholars support religious beliefs in the party, which has undermined the party’s values based on dialectical materialism.”
“We should guide religious groups and individuals with socialist core values and excellent traditional Chinese culture to dig into their doctrines to find parts that are beneficial to social harmony and development,” Wang said.