Communist Government Continues to Control Religious Freedoms

(Forum 18) The Communist party-state remains determined to maintain control over society, using over the past 20 years an increasing number of laws and regulations as a means to this end. In the field of religion, Ye Xiaowen, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, has publicly stated that “The purpose…of strengthening the administration of religious affairs according to law is actively to guide the religions to adapt themselves to socialist society.” There is a complex web of laws and regulations on religion under which, to take one example, children may not receive religious education, whatever their parents think. The state claims the exclusive right to decide on what are “normal” religious activities and is effectively pursuing a policy of divide-and-rule towards religious communities. Some religious communities de facto accepted this policy, not foreseeing that the state’s repression of Falun Gong would also lead to measures against, for example, the unofficial Protestant community. The Chinese state’s relationship with religion can only improve if the state accepts that laws are supreme – even over the party – and protect individuals and society from arbitrary actions by those in power.