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China’s Religious Policy: The Unfinished Mandate 

ICC Note:

According to ChinaSource’s article, China’s Communist  Party continues to see religious groups as potential ideological threats and has never abandoned its “class struggle mentality” in dealing with religious affairs. The article recommended that “only when the government recognizes the legal status of grassroots religious organizations and allows them to have a voice in society will the current tensions between church and state be resolved.”

07/09/2014 China (ChinaSource)- China’s current policy on religion is spelled out in Central Party Document no. 19, “The Basic Viewpoint and Policy on the Religious Question during Our Country’s Socialist Period,” issued in March of 1982.

Among the provisions contained in Document 19 were the instructions that, “In order to ensure further normalization of religious activities, the government should hereafter, in accordance with due process of law, consult fully with representatives from religious circles in order to draw up feasible religious legislation that can be carried out in practice.” Although a host of national and local regulations having the force of law have been promulgated in the years since Document 19’s appearance, the process of consulting with believers and drawing up appropriate laws passed by the National People’s Congress to govern religious activity has never been carried out

Zhang Shoudong, an associate professor in the China University of Political Science and Law, sees this process of legal development as central to China’s continued progress as a society:

[W]hen we review the legality of religious groups and re-define the position of religious groups in the current system, we should not remain merely at the policy level which holds that ‘the state shall actively guide religions to adapt to the socialist society. Instead, we should be proactive in guiding religious legislation to correspond with civil society and define the legal role of religious groups in terms of civil society. In doing so, we will have a better chance of building a harmonious and civil society in China.

In order to resolve conflicts between the state regulation of religious affairs and the church’s struggle for existence and development, the state should regard the church as a common member of the civil society and should not regard it as an enemy to the building of a harmonious society…. Religious legislation should follow the spirit of deliberative democracy and demonstrate communicative rationality between the state and church, so that church can have a say in the drafting of such legislation. Otherwise, they will resist the law, thus rendering it ineffective.

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