Containing infiltration of foreign religions according to law

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/15 20:53:40

Anti-cult education held in Danhua primary school in Bozhou, East China's Anhui Province Photo: cnsphoto

China has always been wary of introducing religious groups from outside its borders. The Regulations on Religious Affairs, amended in September 2017, set forth the principles of "containing extremist religions and resisting the infiltration of foreign religions." 

It banned unauthorized organization of group visits of Chinese citizens to religious training, meetings, and pilgrimages in foreign countries. Also, religious personnel are not allowed to work under the control of foreign forces or work for foreign religious groups without authorization. 

While the Indian-grown religion Oneness University has not been officially identified as a cult by the Chinese government, religious experts note that it has shown a tendency toward mind control over its followers.

China's Criminal Law defines a "cult" as an illegal organization established under the guise of religion or any other institution to deify its chief and spread superstitious and harmful beliefs to confuse and deceive others, develop and control its members, and endanger the society. 

Different with Indian spiritual followers who may come from lower socioeconomic situations and seek supernatural powers to heal their life mingled with poverty or physical ailments, Chinese followers of Indian "gurus" normally look for a purpose or cause and want a "guru" to guide and satisfy their spiritual needs. 

The successful advertisement of modern Indian spiritual movements is a crucial reason behind their popularity in countries like China with centuries-old spiritual traditions and cultures of their own, analysts said. 

China's policy of respecting freedom of religious belief apply to the five mainstream religions the Chinese government officially recognizes, which are Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam, but are not applicable to spiritual institutions spreading illegally from abroad, said Li.

"China has been accused of interfering with religious freedom in the name of cracking down on cults. But in fact, all cults have done nothing but ripping off money and harming people," Li said.

China firmly opposes the infiltration of illegal foreign religions, but welcomes normal cultural exchanges, Li stressed.

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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