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World News

Chinese Communist Party to 'dominate every sphere of religion' with new laws

by Tola Mbakwe

The Chinese government has introduced new laws that tightens restrictions on the freedom of religion.

According to Chinese persecution watchdog ChinaAid, the new polices, which came into effect on Saturday, are six chapters and 41 articles long. Together they mandate religious leaders and organisations to show total devotion to the Chinese Communist Party.

Article 5 reads: "Religious organisations must spread the principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as national laws, regulations, rules to religious personnel and religious citizens, educating religious personnel and religious citizens to support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, supporting the socialist system, adhering to and following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

For decades, the Chinese government has had a leash on religious groups by requiring them to be monitored, official religious organisations.

However, China said President Xi Jinping's new approach on inserting "Chinese characteristics" into religion marks a turning point.

ChinaAid said in a statement: "Authorities launched a five-year plan for reworking religion so that the Communist Party sits at its dictatorial head. Under this, officials throughout China have asked churches to fly the national flag while destroying religious imagery, such as crosses, or church buildings. In churches run by the state, Christians are commanded to sing patriotic songs and listen to pro-Communist Party sermons."

Despite China's Constitution guaranteeing the freedom of religion to its citizens, churches or Christians who don't comply with the rules can face church closure or arrest.

ChinaAid president and founder Dr Bob Fu said the new rules "codify the Chinese Communist Party's ideological and leadership supremacy over all religious affairs in China".

He added: "From now on, the Chinese Communist Party will become the head of the churches, temples, mosques, and other religious institutions.

"They will dominate every sphere of religion, from religious doctrines, leadership selection, financial management, and foreign exchanges.

"There will be little autonomy and independence left for any religious organisations in China.

"No independent religious institutions, such as house churches, will be legally allowed or tolerated or allowed to exist unless they join the state-run church organisations."

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