China: The New Database for the Monitoring of Religions
The Chinese State Agency for Religious Affairs (SARA) operates a new database containing all information on religious personnel located on Chinese territory. This is referred to in Article 33 of the document ‘Administrative measures for Religious Personnel’, which shows full control over religions operating in the Chinese Territory (Source: Congressional Executive Commission on China, www.cecc.gov ).
This document contains seven (7) chapters and fifty-two (52) articles which provide a meticulous description of how and for whom all this information will be collected. In particular, the registration of any religious personnel, their characteristics, their type of work, their rights, their obligations, etc.
This above-mentioned document was first published last November on SARA’s website and was open for comment, suggestions, and corrections from the public. Its implementation will enter into force on 1 May 2021.
Religious personnel who wish to perform a religious function should meet specific criteria such as:
They must love China.
To support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
To support the socialist system.
To Respect the laws and regulations.
To apply fundamental values of communism/socialism.
To Observe the principle of independence.
To Observe the principle of self-management of religion.
To abide by China’s religious policy.
To implement the preservation of national unity and religious harmony.
To implement the principle of social stability (Article 3).
The obligations of religious personnel include the resistance (fighting) of illegal religious activities and religious extremism as well as resistance to infiltration by foreign forces using religion.
The point is that religions are still regarded as state institutions and the commitments of religious staff as civil servants.
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