Concept of nation must be enhanced in religious people
Published: Aug 01, 2018 10:08 PM

Western media recently launched a new round of attacks on China's religious freedom. The country's major religious associations on Tuesday proposed an initiative demanding that all religious venues raise China's national flag to strengthen awareness of respect for the flag and preserve the flag's dignity. This move, however, was interpreted by some Western media outlets as an attempt to expand the country's "ideological control over religious life." 

Over two months ago when the China Islamic Association urged mosques in China to fly national flags to promote patriotism among Muslims, the West also accused China of tightening its grip on religion and intervening in religious freedom.

A national flag is a symbol of the country that should be respected by all citizens. The display of national flags is not only recognition of national sovereignty, but also a manifestation of love for the country.

Hanging a flag at religious sites is meant to enhance the concept of nation and civic consciousness among religious people. Promoting patriotism isn't at odds with protecting freedom of religion, Islam, for instance, emphasizes patriotism as a part of faith.

For multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries like China, strengthening people's national and civic consciousness is of particular importance.

Colonialists divided national borders according to nationality and religion, which led to serious conflicts to Asian countries, as is the case with India and Pakistan. China must draw lessons from this and ratchet up efforts to build religious people's national and civic consciousness.

Religions are exclusive. The key to make them live in harmony is to sustain their national identity. If the shared sense of national identity collapsed, the country would be divided or even lurch toward war.

Thanks to China's effective religious governance, religions have developed rapidly in China over the years. The Chinese government adopts the principle of separating religion from politics and respects freedom of religion. Legal religious activities are not only allowed in any region of China, but also well protected. However in an attempt to divide China's national unity, many Western forces have repeatedly made an issue of the country's religious freedom, making groundless claims that religious groups are suppressed in China.

When the American flag is raised, all Americans, regardless of race or religion, stand up to show their respect. China has every reason to strengthen national identity and civic consciousness among religious people.

Flying the national flag at religious sites is a good way to do so. Without a stable country as the foundation of religious belief, religion will only cause division.

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