New measures will come into force on September 1, 2023 in China, which concern places of worship. From that point on, they will have to actively spread communist propaganda or cease their activities. In a final text of a new measures is even worse than the initial draft, new rules will transform places of worship into branches of the propaganda system of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The new “Administrative Measures for Religious Activity Venues,” intended to replace those of 2005, the object of rumors, has been “released for comment.” This is actually a cosmetic exercise of pseudo-democracy, as comments are always ignored and drafts eventually become law, sometimes worsening the original text.
The Bitter Winter platform, which reports on attacks against Christianity in China, had access to the final document which will come into force on September . It is no exception to the rule, because it is worse than the draft.
Not only does it confirm that places of religious activity must actively disseminate CCP propaganda or face closure, it also contains stricter provisions to include CCP propaganda in national legislation. These provisions provide for the inclusion of propaganda content in sermons and the establishment of study groups of CCP materials in all places of worship.
“It is also specified that ‘it is prohibited to build large open-air religious statues outside of temples and churches,’ and the prohibition also applies to private citizens or donors.”
The term “religious activity venues” refers to: monasteries, churches, temples, mosques, as well and other fixed places for religious activities registered in accordance with the “Regulations on Religious Affairs” and other provisions.
Compared to 2005, there is nothing new in the fact that in order to operate legally, religious premises must be registered with the authorities. What changes is the emphasis that every house of worship must become an active CCP propaganda agency.
A place of worship can only obtain and retain (because it is easy to lose) an “operating” permit if it upholds “the leadership of the CCP and the socialist system, thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s ideology of socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era.” And again, there is the requirement that it “abide by the Constitution, laws, rules and regulations and relevant provisions on the management of religious affairs, practice core socialist values, and adhere to the direction of Sinicization of China’s religions.”
One can hope that such a text will end up opening the eyes of the pope and of those in charge of the Curia: the only truly tangible results obtained by the secret Sino-Vatican agreement of 2018, already renewed twice, are repeated violations of this agreement (which bears, as is well known, on the appointment of bishops).
Violations first by the unilateral imposition of bishops without Rome’s consent, continued violations by repeated pressure on priests to join the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics (subject to the party), and violations now by the obligation imposed on the Church to become a go-between for communist propaganda.