Six Agencies of CCP Central Government promulgated “Opinions” on religious charity activities aiming to restrict and utilize the social influence of ChristianityMonday, March 5, 2012
China Aid Association, March 5, 2012, Monday
According to the report of Xinhua News Agency on Feb. 27, 2012, six agencies of Chinese Communist Party Central Government, i.e. State Religious Bureau in collaboration with National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Civil Affairs, and State Taxation Administration, promulgated “Opinions on encouraging and regulating the involvement of religious groups in public service and charity activities”, aiming to provide policy guidelines on religious groups’ participation in public service and charity activities.
The “Opinions” clearly indicated that religious groups can undertake three types of charity activities: 1) donate money or items to public service and charity enterprises; 2) start public service and charity initiatives; 3)found public service and charity organizations, which include foundations, welfare agencies and non-profit medical agencies.
Meanwhile, this legally binding document emphasized that religious groups “not preach religious ideas while doing public service and charity work and not receive funds, donations and partnership from overseas appended with political and religious conditions.” This regulation clearly targets on Christianity which in recent years, especially after Wenchuan Earthquake, has been consciously, systematically, and comprehensively getting involved in in-depth social charity work with increasing vigor and proclaiming the gospel in the meantime.
The “Opinions” received attention from domestic and overseas media, religious community, academia, and the governmental circles. Reverend Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid which is actively calling on churches to offer humanitarian aids to war refugees at the Yunnan border, commented:
“This is a comprehensive document issued by CCP Central Government to give guidelines on religious groups’ participation in charity activities. It indicates that the vigorous development of charity activities initiated by religious groups, especially Christianity, has attracted their attention. Therefore, to certain extent, the promulgation of the “Opinions” is a gesture of affirmation to these charity activities. “
“In the meanwhile, this document also reflects the Central Government's concerns about the growth and increasing social influences of religious groups, especially Christianity. Some officials in the Central Committee still hold onto the out of dated mentality that the completely localized Christianity is still a “foreign religion” and linked with “overseas forces” and “imperialism”.
Bob Fu further commented, “Overall, the ‘Opinions’ represents a regression in that it aims to utilize, restrict and even strike domestic and overseas religious charity activities. Religious believers participate in charity activities out of their religious doctrine and conscience. Christian churches, especially members of house churches, have been involved in numerous religious activities and made great contributions, particularly after Wenchuan Earthquake, which have considerably promoted social stability and justice. They deserve encouragement and commends from the government. However, it is exactly this beautiful social influence that has aroused the government’s concerns and caused the government to restrict it and utilize it. This document could also be viewed as legal evidence of government’s attack on Christian charity activities.”
“This will be unfortunate.”
China Aid will closely watch the implementation results of the “Opinions”.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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