China strives to keep religious harmony

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-25 0:33:01

President Xi Jinping made important remarks during a conference on religions on Friday and Saturday. Fifteen years since the previous such conference, it raised high public awareness over religious affairs.

While the Communist Party of China sticks to atheism, religions have developed fast in China, as non-Party members have religious freedom. Both religious followers and religious sites have witnessed fast growth. The development is beyond the expectation of society and institutions.

China has managed religious affairs well, for example, religious freedom for non-Party members is guaranteed, plus different religions co-exist harmoniously in Chinese society, with nearly no open or potential tensions that are common in other countries. While there are some conflicts with the government's management of religious affairs, these issues, centered on the size of religious buildings for example, do not affect the religious belief itself.

Most of the uncertainties in religious affairs are related to overseas forces. Besides the fact that major religions have global reach and naturally there is outside influence, the process becomes mixed with political and ideological factors. China's religious community must be aware of it and avoid being exploited by external political and zealous ideological forces.

It has to be noted that religion is deeply politicized in many countries, and is mired in international political confrontations from time to time. Some countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East fractured due to religious and sectarian divisions. China puts the Party's leadership and the rule of law above the governance of all religions. It is the basic guarantee for the long-term harmonious coexistence of different religions.

As religion shapes its believers' faith and has formed a community of shared faith, it will become the weakest link for external forces to infiltrate their influences into China if it is controlled by international politics.

Patriotism is a rational sentiment indispensible in today's China. It, rather than a frantic nationalist sentiment, is a belief based on the common knowledge of geopolitics and national interests. Many rival countries are also religious powers, whose geopolitical interests will, consciously or unconsciously, permeate into their cultural exchanges with China. Thus, it is of vital importance for China to stay unaffected in its opening up.

Believers' faiths are global, but we must view China's interests with full independence. To stay in accord with China's national and societal governance, our religious governance should be independent from external religious rules.

Religious development should promote inclusiveness in China. Governments and non-religious groups should be tolerant of different religions, and meanwhile the latter should understand and respect China's characteristics in its religious governance.

Posted in: Editorial

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