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China’s New Administrative Measures on Religious Clergy

On May 1, the “Administrative Measures of Religious Clergy” promulgated by China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) came into effect. The Administrative Measures, published on February 9 of this year, are composed of seven chapters and 52 articles, that define the “rights and obligations” of China’s religious clergy and regulate their behavior. Among them, Article 3 states that religious clergy should “love the motherland, support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and support the socialist system.” They should also “practice the core socialist values,” and adhere to the principle of “independence and self-management of religion” and the “direction of the localization of religions.”

On May 2, almost immediately after the implementation of these “Administrative Measures,” a video and several photos taken in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, went viral on the Internet. The video and photos show a local Christian clergyman preaching in a church, using a local dialect, and quoting the Bible to explain Xi Jinping’s political propaganda slogan, which includes “the main mission during the era of Xi Jinping.”

Pastor Liu Yi, now living in California who is also the founder of the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness, commented, “Under the control of the Chinese Communist Party, many so-called pastors and preachers in Christianity have taken it upon themselves to take the party’s position. They have used the pulpit of the church to become the mouthpiece for propagating the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, the ‘sermons’ from a church in Zhejiang circulating online are very telling. They are not preaching the Bible, but rather, the propaganda of the Communist Party.”

Pastor Liu Yi explains that there are seven “national religious groups” in China, “namely, the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Chinese Taoist Association, the Chinese Islamic Association, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the Chinese Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Chinese Christian Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee and the Chinese Christian Association. These national religious organizations are all under the direct leadership of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 4, 2021