Party Members Warned Over Religion

A high-ranking official has spoken out against a resurgence of religious practice among Party members which breaches regulations and, he claimed, threatens the CCP’s unity. From The Associated Press:

Party members are required to be atheists and must not believe in religion or engage in religious practice, said Zhu Weiqun, a member of the party’s Central Committee and executive vice director of its United Front Work Department in charge of dealings with nonparty groups ….

“Voices have appeared within the party calling for an end to the ban on religion, arguing in favor of the benefits of religion for party members and even claiming the ban on religion for party members is unconstitutional,” Zhu said.

“In fact, our party’s principled stance regarding forbidding members from believing in religion has not changed one iota,” he said.

Many religious practitioners outside the Party, meanwhile, face continued pressure. Last week the AP reported the shutdown of a public Christmas party in Xitan, Zhejiang:

The Xintan [sic] Village Church, in a video posted on YouTube, said the local government authorized the event. But a higher-level official in charge of religious affairs said the believers were asked a day earlier to cancel because regulations forbid worship outdoors and Buddhists in the community complained.

“We told them that any outdoors event of a religious nature is strictly banned from being organized, and that’s what it states in the government rule on religion,” said Zeng Jianhua, deputy director of religious affairs in Ruian city, which oversees Xintan.

Ruian has become home to makers of toys and Christmas ornaments. Xintan bills itself as “Christmas village.” Local factories produced more than $78 billion, or 500 million yuan, in Christmas products this year, prompting local officials to stage a Christmas arts and culture fair last Saturday in celebration. That inspired the Xintan Village Church to hold its own nighttime Christmas party Tuesday, the church statement said.

Video, via Shanghaiist:

Also last week, Christian organisation CHINAaid announced an unprecedented National Day crackdown on a house church in Lhasa, in which 11 members were detained for almost a month. The group published the account of Song Xinkuan, “a Chinese citizen & Christian believer”:

At the NSPA (National Security Protection Agency) office, the officer I met at the very beginning and his young coworker said they would interrogate me according to the law and I was demanded to truthfully answer the questions they were going to ask. I said, “Christianity is a legal religion. Why do you keep saying that we (Christians) are illegal?” They would not allow me to defend or explain for myself and insisted that I answer their questions. In the meantime, another office joined the interrogation, and then the female boss joined us too. The questions they asked became so strange that I did not have answers for them. They asked about some people and events that I had no knowledge of, and they emphasized repeatedly that Christianity is not only illegal in Tibet, but also is an alleged cult that undermines ethnic unity and social stability. I had to state repeatedly that Christianity is a legal religion anywhere in China and I asked them how it had become illegal in Lhasa, Tibet or even an alleged cult?