State Administration for Religious Affairs, the religious affairs regulator of China, has asked the members of ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to give up religion and be “firm Marxist atheists” or face punishment.
Wang Zuoan, director of State Administration for Religious Affairs, as per an article published in Global Times, a broadsheet closely linked to CPC said, “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members.”
Zuoan said that the CPC members are forbidden from supporting or getting involved in religious affairs in the name of developing the economy or diversifying culture. “Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party’s faith … they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion,” Wang said.
Wang’s comments are in the lines with the rules of the CPC. While China’s Constitution explicitly allows “freedom of religious belief”, Chinese Communist Party – which is essentially atheist –exhibits a “cautious tolerance” towards religion. The party, which prohibits its nearly 90 million Party members from holding religious beliefs, has often demanded the expulsion of members who belong to religious organisations.
Zuoan also claimed that “foreign forces” are using religion “to infiltrate China”, posing serious threat to the country’s security.
“Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China, and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading in some places, which have threatened national security and social stability,” he wrote.
Zhu Weiqun, Chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference was quoted as saying that party’s unity is damaged and the party’s “values based on dialectical materialism” take a hit when its officials have religious faith.
“Some people who claim to be scholars support religious beliefs in the Party, which has undermined the Party’s values based on dialectical materialism,” Weiqun said.
It could be noted that in Xinjiang – the largest Muslim province of China– China has banned burqas and ‘abnormal’ beards. Even the Chinese authority has reportedly prohibited Islamic baby names and tried to prevent the Muslims from observing fasting during the holy month of Ramadan in the in restive Xinjiang region, which had witnessed series of riots in July 2009.
Even though China has never allowed the Islam to flourish, the Christian population has witnessed a silent rise in the atheist China. Reports suggest that the country could have the largest number of Christians in the world by 2030.