Religious sites in China to raise national flag to enhance national identity

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/31 14:13:39

All religious venues should raise China's national flag to strengthen awareness of respect to the flag and preserve the flag's dignity, China's major religious associations said on Tuesday.

Chinese experts hailed the initiative for seeking to assimilate religion into a socialist society and as progress for religious development.

The measure was proposed by the heads and representatives of national religious groups, including the Buddhist Association of China, the Taoist Association of China, the Islamic Association of China, and the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China. They gathered in Beijing on Tuesday for their sixth joint conference.

The national flag shall be raised at religious venues on National Day, International Labor Day, New Year's Day, Spring Festival, and other important festivals and celebrations of each religion, according to the proposal at the conference, which was participated by Wang Zuoan, deputy head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

The groups also require the venues to put up the national flag at prominent locations while simultaneously raising religious flags and put the national flag before religious flags in the row.

 It also includes the raising of national flag as an evaluation index in the activities of selecting harmonious temples or churches.

The advocate shows Chinese major religious associations have reached a consensus on the sinicization of religions by integrating religious doctrines into Chinese culture, Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies expert and a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa, told the Global Times.

The move is to strengthen national consciousness, help religious believers better practice socialist core values, and carry forward the tradition of patriotism, the report said.

The national religious associations called for organizing activities to study China's Constitution and the National Flag Law, while stressing the need to sinicize religions and assimilate religions in socialist society, it added.

Some internet users questioned whether raising a national flag at a religious site was a violation of the principle of separation of politics and religion.

"Raising the national flag is a way to express religious believer's spirit of patriotism. It has nothing to do with interference of religious freedom," Yan Kejia, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Yan added that the national flag represents the country, not politics. It is a common phenomenon in the world that religious venues have raised their national flags, especially in the US, he noted. 

Flags have been raised at all 69 religious sites - including Christian churches and Buddhist temples - in the city of Lanxi in East China's Zhejiang Province to "have patriotism guide devotion to religions," according to the website of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of Zhejiang Province.


Newspaper headline: Religious sites to raise flag


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