Chinese religious personnel study Constitution to reinforce national identity

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/4 23:18:39

Learning Constitution a matter of national identity: analyst

In a bid to reinforce national identity, China's major religious associations are organizing activities to study the Constitution of China and its latest amendments.

Since March, religious and legal experts, Party School professors, police and judges have been invited to symposiums and lectures at Buddhist temples to study the newly amended Constitution, Shi Zewu, deputy head of the Buddhist Association of China, told the Global Times on Monday.

"Studying the Constitution is the top priority and most important mission for China's religious sector," said Shi, also abbot of Nanputuo Temple in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province.

Similar events are being held across China after the country's national legislature adopted constitutional amendments that stress Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership and upholding core socialist values. 

On Thursday, heads and representatives of national religious groups gathered in Beijing to study the amendments and promote the authority and spirit of the Constitution.

Only when religious believers loyally advocate and firmly defend the Constitution can they better exercise their rights to religious freedom, conference attendees agreed, according to a statement released at the website of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.

More than 200 people, including religious officials and believers, signed their names on a wall in Shanghai's Yangpu district on Wednesday for an activity called "I am a Chinese citizen," intending to promote legal awareness among religious believers.

"The scale of studying the Constitution in the religious sector is unprecedented since  1949," Liu Guopeng, a research fellow at the Institute of World Religion Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Studying the Constitution is a matter of national identity, especially for believers of religions that were introduced to China, Liu asserted

China's religious affairs also face constant challenges from "Arabization" and separatist moves, he warned.

Some 95 percent of about 25,000 religious staff in Tibet passed a test on the Constitution, Tibet Daily reported on May 22. The test helped shape the idea  "national laws are above religious rules," the report said.

Since March, more than 500,000 people participated in 3,860 activities promoting the study of the Constitution, said the newspaper.

Study of the Constitution was closely integrated with local efforts to combat separatists and safeguard stability and border construction, it said.

"Religious believers are citizens, and every citizen in China has the responsibility to study and follow the Constitution to make sure that religions do not derail national strategy nor play a negative role," Zhu Weiqun, former chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times on Monday.

Newspaper headline: Religious associations study Constitution


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