Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

US Govt Panel Discusses Chinese Policies on Religion

ICC Note: House church scholar delves into the nuances and implications of the house church movement for China

6/29/10 China (ChinaAid)–Mr. Mark Chuanhang Shan, a scholar on house churches in China, joined a panel of experts in analyzing the religious policies in China, at the roundtable forum hosted by Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on June 18. The two-hour afternoon discussion, also featuring James Tong, a professor of political science of Chinese descent from UCLA and two Western scholars from NGOs, touched on political and social trends influencing Chinese policies toward faith practitioners in country.

The CECC panel raised the following questions:What factors have influenced the Chinese government’s policies toward spiritual movements and determined its various types of treatment toward members of the spiritual movements? The Chinese government allows some space for some spiritual movements to operate in while banning other movements, such as Falun Gong. Why does the Chinese government regard some spiritual movements as threats?”

In his speech, Mr. Shan emphasized that to understand the religious policies of the Chinese government, one must not overlook the influence from the traditional Chinese political culture. Since Zhou Dynasty, the concept of Mandate of Heaven has deeply influenced the religious policies of various dynasties in the history of China. This particular spiritual-political concept has passed down in the political-ideology of China’s history and influenced some political movements in modern China such as the Taiping Rebellion in the 19th century and the revolution for founding the Republic of China led by Sun Yat-sen in the early 20th century.

This tradition of political culture has led to a forbidden zone in the policies of the Chinese government: i.e. the government can’t tolerate dissent from any religion or spiritual movement. The government only allows those that obey the government and support the government’s political agendas. In today’s China, this type of political correctness is judged by the avowal of patriotism by the religious or spiritual groups. For example, the Protestant house churches and the underground Catholic churches are suppressed and persecuted by the government while Protestants and Catholics in the TSPM movement enjoy relatively more freedom.

See full story