China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations is about religious groups.  Well – it’s about some religious groups.  And depending on whose description you’re reading, it’s about protecting religious freedom – or it’s about restricting religious freedom.  The Chinese government claims it’s protecting the right to freedom of religion.  Pretty much everyone else says it’s about freedom from religion.

china-christianity-islam-flag indicating China's Religious Affairs Regulations Article 1This is part 3 of the series on Chinese Religious Regulations.  If you haven’t read the others, I highly recommend at least reading Part 1, Can new religious regulations in China beat God? for some background.  Also, the intro from Part 2, China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1 is included below (just in case you don’t have time to read all of Part 2 right now).

Religious Groups

Chapter 2 is interesting.  There are many items from previous regulations removed.  Well, they appear to be removed.  In reality, they are not “removed” – they are just “moved”.  They do show up later in the document.  On top of that, there are major additions in the newest version of the religious regulations.  On the whole, China’s Religious Affairs Regulations took a big step towards having much more control over religion in China in this chapter. 

As many people know, “groups” are the heart of a Christian church.  The church itself is one thing.  It often has services once a week where people worship and hear a message.  But it’s the groups where people get to know each other.  It’s also the groups where they really get to study scripture and get to know God.  So what happens with these groups is really important.  Keep that in mind as we examine Chapter 2 of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations.

Also, as we move from Chapter 1 with general regulations into subsequent chapters with more specific regulations, we’ll look deeper into the original question of whether or not it’s possible for the Chinese government to really have a lasting impact on people’s desire and ability to reach out to God.  Consider passages such as the ones below when reading the rest of this series.

Psalm 14

For the director of music. Of David.

Ps 14:1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

Ps 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.

Ps 14:3 All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

Ps 14:4 Will evildoers never learn—
those who devour my people as men eat bread
and who do not call on the LORD?

Ps 14:5 There they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.

Ps 14:6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the LORD is their refuge.

Ps 14:7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Is that a good description of what’s going on in China or what?  And not just China, but in way too many places.  However, what has been seen time after time is that when governments become too oppressive, then people reach out to God more than ever.  For a quick look at that thought, please see The more you tighten your grip, Satan … .

Article 7a

Reminder from previous entries in the series:  The articles are numbered based on the 2018 version.

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
6a. The establishment, alteration, or cancellation of registration, of a religious body shall be registered in accordance with the provisions of the Regulations on Registration Administration of Associations. 7a. The establishment, modification, or deregistration of a religious group shall be registered in accordance with the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups. 7a. The establishment, modification, or deregistration of a religious group shall be registered in accordance with the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups.

At first glance, it seems like this one is just some minor word changes.  For instance, deregistration instead of cancellation.  While it’s interesting that a religious group can’t just cease to exist without notifying the government, something else is going on here.

Notice that the source for relevant provisions for registration types of activities has been changed.  It’s no longer the Regulations on Registration Administration of Associations.  Now religious groups are referred to State provisions for managing social groups.  Yes – social groups.  

There’s a potential issue with this.  Being classified as a social group could be either good or bad for a church.  It all depends on how they use that designation.  For instance, take a look at the excerpt below.

The Camera Club is a group of amateur photographers who enjoy opportunities to share and enhance their skills in photography. The Club was founded in 1978.

This club meets the third Monday of each month, September to May at 7pm at ……  Monthly meetings include a presentation on an area of technology or special interest and a sharing time when members show their prints, slides and digital images as a “show and tell” or travelogue.

The Camera Club welcomes anyone interested in photography to join. 

It looks very innocuous, doesn’t it?  It’s from a real web site for a real church in Wisconsin.  The only thing that would have identified it as a church meeting was the location – which is why I changed it to … .  The thing is, no amount of government snooping, manual or automated, would have detected that this was a church program, as long as the location doesn’t specifically match the church address.

In that light, this command from Jesus to the twelve when He first sent them out is most appropriate.  Mt 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  It’s like saying – know the ways of the government; be able to do what you can within the limits imposed by that government; but do not become like them.

Once everyone gets used to churches being “merely” social gatherings, the urgency of finding and eliminating them could drop.

The flip side is that churches could actually turn into nothing but social gatherings.  However, this is far more likely to happen – and does happen all to often – in places like the U.S. where being a Christian isn’t literally life-threatening / dangerous.

But wait!

All of that sounds very good.  Well, it sounds good to those of us who think everything I just wrote is about “social” groups the way non-Chinese people think about social groups.  However, the devil is in the details (literally).  Here’s what “social groups” are about in China, from the 1998 Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations, Order No. 250 of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China.

Article 3

Social organizations should receive the approval and examination of a sponsor organization, and register according to the stipulations in these regulations, in order to be founded.

A social organization should possess the status of a legal entity.

The organizations listed below are not included in the scope of these regulations:

(1) People’s organizations participating in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
(2) Organizations that have been exempted from registration after review by the personnel office of the State Council and approved by the State Council itself.
(3) Organizations in government bureaus, organizations, public institutions, that were established internally, and that conduct activities internally in the work unit.

Oh.  But what does all that mean?

Well, it means there’s another whole set of regulations that also have to be followed.  

Article 7b

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
6b. The articles of association of a religious body shall comply with the relevant provisions of the Regulations on Registration Administration of Associations. 7b. The charters of religious groups shall comply with the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups. 7b. The charters of religious groups shall comply with the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups.

More things are now subject to the relevant State provisions on the management of social groups. 

Notice how short Article 3 of Regulations on the Registration and Management of Social Organizations was above, the 1998 version.  Now, see how much  just that one article has been expanded for the 2016 draft regulations.

Article 3: The establishment of the following Social Groups is directly registered in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations:

(1) Industry associations and chambers of commerce;

(2) Science and technology type Social Groups that engage in academic research and exchange activities in the fields of natural sciences and engineering technology;

(3) Public interest charity type Social Groups providing poverty support, poverty alleviation, support for the elderly, orphan rescue, relief, disability aid, disaster relief, medical aid, and educational support services;

(4) Urban-rural community service type Social Groups that conduct activities within communities so as to meet the demands of the citizens of urban-rural communities.

The formation of Social Groups not provided for in the preceding paragraph and of those national industry associations and chambers of commerce that are required to have professional supervisory units according to laws, administrative regulations and other national provisions, shall be upon the review and approval of their professional supervisory units and registered in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations.

Social Groups shall possess the conditions for legal personhood.

The following Social Groups are not within the scope of registration provided by these Regulations:

(1) People’s organizations participating the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference;

(2) Groups that are authorized by the State Council organizational establishment managing authority and that are exempt from registration as approved by the State Council;

(3) Groups that are established within state organs, groups, enterprises, public institutions, and communities as approved by the respective units or grassroot self-governing mass organizations and that conduct activities within the respective units or communities.  1)http://www.chinalawtranslate.com/social-group-management/?lang=en

We can see that rather than putting the regulations for churches into one location, they are actually being spread out.  This will accomplish at least two things.  First – it will be extremely difficult to even identify all of the “relevant” regulations, since they will be scattered around under different documents, formulated at different times, and in various states of approval / review / draft.  Second – with the spreading out, there is bound to be overlap and then conflict between regulations in different documents.  This will add yet another layer of complexity when trying to determine what is relevant.

All of this is undoubtedly planned by the Chinese government to obfuscate (blur, muddle, complicate, over complicate, muddy, cloud) and confuse.  However, we must remember this:

Pr 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the LORD.

A nation led by the godless surely does not believe this.  They may never have even heard it.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  They may succeed for a time.  But eventually, they will fail.  Whether that be at The End, or whether it be something miraculous like the Roman Emperor converting to Christianity – they will fail.

As for those Chinese Christians who maintain / grow their faith, they know and the rest of us should remember –

The Beatitudes

Mt 5:1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them, saying:

Mt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Mt 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Mt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

Mt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

A number of these could apply to the Christians living in China, and other countries like that.  These things, along with their salvation, are their hope.  They are, quite literally, what they live for.  Suffer for.  And if need be, die for.

Article 7c

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
6c. The activities carried out by a religious body in accordance with its articles of association are protected by law. 7c. The activities carried out by religious groups in accordance with their charters are protected by law. 7c. Activities carried out by religious groups in accordance with their charters are protected by law.

That’s an interesting phrase at the end of the sentence:  protected by law.  It kind of begs the question – what does protected mean?

According to dictionary.com, it means: to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger.

It appears we have a circular “regulation” problem here.  If we take Article 7c at face value and say it really is defending the rights of religious groups, then we end up with the following scenario.

  1. the regulations control, to a very high degree, what religious groups are allowed to do.
  2. then the regulations make sure that no one prevents the religious groups from doing what they’re allowed to do.

In other words, the activities carried out by religious groups are restricted by, controlled by, and enforced by the government.

So – what are the Chinese Christians supposed to do?  Should they try to forcibly overthrow the communist government?  Should they give in to the government and give up their beliefs?

Paying Taxes to Caesar

Mt 22:15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Mt 22:18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

Mt 22:21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Mt 22:22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Maybe you think this passage is about taxes, so it has nothing to do with China’s religious regulations.  But notice – this was the Pharisees trying to get an answer to the question.  The Pharisees were the religious leaders.  As such, they certainly had more in mind than just taxes.  Also, notice that Jesus knew their evil intent.

But more importantly – look at the answer.  In today’s China, the answer would be something like, give to Xi what is Xi’s – and give to God what is God’s.  

Why are the Christians in China going through all of this?  Honestly, we cannot know.  However, one thing we do know – they are accomplishing something that Jesus talked about.  Note:  While we cannot know the answer to this question of “why?” – some thoughts on the question are included in “If you don’t believe in the devil, then …” on my other site.

Salt and Light

Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

The Chinese Christians are that light.  And as much as the government would like to keep that light covered, other Christians need to do what we can to be sure that light is seen around the world.  In that way, even those who live in this oppressive country can have their light not only shine there, but around the world.

For a much more detailed look at this concept of being the light of the world, please see We can only help the broken world around us if ….

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 7a in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
7a. A religious body may, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State, compile and publish reference publications to be circulated within religious circles. Religious publications for public distribution shall be published in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State on publication administration. No matching article
Has primarily been moved to Article 45: of chapter VI, Religious Activity, although it’s also in 2 other articles in 2 different chapters. Will cover them in their new locations.
No matching article
Has primarily been moved to Article 45: of chapter VI, Religious Activity, although it’s also in 3 other articles in 3 different chapters. Will cover them in their new locations, including chapter VIII Legal Responsibility

As it says in the table above, the new regulations will be covered in later chapters of this series.

However, it’s worth noting that removal of any items may lead to a temporary feeling of relief – maybe those rules are gone.  But, when they get removed from one portion of the regulations and are then spread out across 4 different places – one must question the reasoning behind such a move.  As usual, confusion and ambiguity will be seen as the likely answers.

We’re talking about religious publications here.  Part of it is for internal use within religious circles.  The other is for public distribution.  While many of us in relatively free countries may assume the public release documents will undergo a much higher level of scrutiny than the internal ones, this is not really the case in China.  The Chinese government has a very high level of control over what is said and done within the country – so even those internal publications receive intense scrutiny, as we’ll see.

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 7b in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
7b. Publications involving religious contents shall comply with the provisions of the Regulations on Publication Administration, and shall not contain the contents:
(1) which jeopardize the harmonious co-existence between religious and non-religious citizens;
(2) which jeopardize the harmony between different religions or within a religion;
(3) which discriminate against or insult religious or non-religious citizens;
(4) which propagate religious extremism; or
(5) which contravene the principle of independence and self-governance in respect of religions.
No matching article
While the same note applies as above, note that many of these same issues have already been covered in chapter I general provisions. 
In any case, will be covered in their new locations.
No matching article
While the same note applies as above, note that many of these same issues have already been covered in chapter I general provisions. 
In any case, will be covered in their new locations.

The thing to realize here is that while these regulations are allegedly about freedom of religion, the wording is actually about limiting religion.  Even in the case of respecting other religions, we will come to find out that the ultimate religion is the Three Self Patriotic Movement.  How’s that for the same of a religion.  Obviously, it’s all about the Chinese government – not about Christianity, which is what it claims.

Anyway – much more will come out when we get to the new locations.

Article 8a

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
No matching article 8a. Religious groups have the following functions:

(1) assisting the government in the implementation of religious laws, regulations and policies;
(2) maintaining the legitimate rights and interests of religious citizens;
(3) Guiding religious affairs, formulating a system of religious rules and supervising their implementation;
(4) engaging in religious cultural study, explaining the religious doctrines and canons, and carrying out the construction of religious ideology;
(5) carrying out religious education, training religious professionals, and designating and managing religious personnel;
(6) such other functions as laws, regulations, rules and religious articles of association.

8a. Religious groups have the following functions:

(1) assisting the people’s governments in the implementation of laws, regulations,rules, and policies, to preserve the lawful rights and interests of religious citizens;
(2) Guiding religious affairs, formulating a system of rules and supervising their implementation;
(3) engaging in religious cultural study, explaining the religious doctrines and canons, and carrying out the construction of religious ideology;
(4) carrying out religious education and training, cultivating religious professionals, and designating and managing religious professionals;
(5) such other functions as laws, regulations, rules and religious groups’ articles of association provide.

Wow.  Where to even start.  

(1) assisting the people’s governments

It’s interesting to think a religious organization has assisting the government as one of its functions.  That it’s listed first is even more telling.  Even worse – under the category of “timing is everything”, here’s something from the headlines a couple of days ago.

As Xi Jinping Extends Power, China Braces for a New Cold War

Here’s an excerpt from that article, from msn.com news.  

Mr. Xi appears to share the view of many Chinese analysts and military officials that the United States is a superpower in decline — and that China must step into the vacuum it leaves behind.

By itself, this statement seemingly says nothing about religion.  However, when looking at recent actions by the Chinese government, this is far from the truth.  China considers religions like Christianity to be an outside influence.  A corruptive influence.  One that needs to be managed.  While previous Communist leaders in China used to try to crush religion, the new approach is to redefine religion.  That’s where the Chinese Three Self Patriotic Movement comes from.  For more in the impact of government managing religion, please see Religion and Government – their impact on our salvation.

So when the Chinese government talks about religion supporting the government, we know for sure that freedom of religion is just a slogan with no meaning.  Evidence of that can clearly be seen, as when Christian churches follow the Bible, not the Chinese religious regulations.  They get blown up.  Literally.  For more on one example of that, please see China bombs megachurch in drive to silence Christianity.

Things like assisting with the implementation of laws, regulations,rules, and policies, to preserve the lawful rights and interests of religious citizens; certainly do not mean that the government will protect the right of the people to follow the beliefs of their religion.  Far from it.  Words like that mean the religious beliefs are expected to be modified to fit the beliefs, teachings and laws of the government.

(2-4) Guiding religious affairs

Can you even imagine being a true Christian believer and then being told you’re responsible for formulating a system of rules and supervising their implementation when you know full well that the core of your beliefs are all illegal?  Everything you live for has to be ignored.  And then its up to you to make sure that’s what everyone who listens to you believes the official government version.  Furthermore, failure to do so will mean your church is destroyed and you end up either in prison for life or dead.  What do you do?

Well, here’s what Jesus said about what we should do.

Mt 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

But would anyone actually do that?

Paul and Silas in Prison

Ac 16:16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

Ac 16:19 When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

Ac 16:22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Ac 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

Ac 16:29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Ac 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

I still remember the first time I taught this passage in a class.  Probably not by coincidence, it was to a group of Chinese college students.  English was their second language, so part of what I needed to do was to make sure they actually understood everything that happened. 

First of all – there was a reason Paul shouted out that everyone was still there.  If even one of the prisoners had escaped, the guard would have been killed by the Romans as punishment.  Paul knew this, so he shouted it before the guard would have a chance to commit suicide to avoid the punishment of failing at his job.

But in order to reach that point, notice that even though every one of the Christians in that jail had a chance to escape what was certain to be brutal punishment, and possibly death, they all stayed.  Every one of them.

Finally, because of what they had done, the guard wanted to know more about them.  And then his whole family ended up being saved.

So would someone do what Jesus talked about?  Absolutely.  The New Testament has lots of examples where that happened.  The world today, with all its flaws, has some of the same.  For example, the pastor(s) at the megachurch in China that was destroyed.

It’s a tough life.  But then, Jesus never said following Him would be easy.  Actually, He said, 

Lk 9:23“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

(5) such other functions …

If everything above wasn’t bad enough, here’s the catch-all that says the government can force religious leaders to do whatever else it wants.  Keep in mind that the government is officially atheist, so whatever is included in item 5 cannot be good.

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 8a in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
8a. For the establishment of an institute for religious education, an application shall be made by the national religious body to the religious affairs department of the State Council, or made by the religious body of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government to the religious affairs department of the people’s government of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government of the place where such institute is to be located. The religious affairs department of the people’s government of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government shall, within 30 days from the date of receipt of the application, put forward its views, and, if it agrees to the establishment, make a report to the religious affairs department of the State Council for examination and approval. No matching article
Has been spread out through many different articles. Will be covered in their new locations.
No matching article
Has been spread out through many different articles. Will be covered in their new locations.

This one is about religious schools.  We’ll get to the specifics in the new regulations later.

 

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 8b in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
8b. The religious affairs department of the State Council shall, within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application made by the national religious body or the report made by the religious affairs department of the people’s government of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government on the establishment of the institute for religious education, make a decision of approval or disapproval. No matching article No matching article

This one used to say the government would respond within 60 days after receiving an application by a “national” religious body.  First note that it has nothing to do with any religions not sanctioned by the government.  But now – there seems to be no requirement to even respond.

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 9 in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
9. An institute for religious education to be established shall meet the following conditions:
(1) having clear and definite training objectives, a charter for school-running and a curriculum;
(2) having the source of students who meet the training requirements;
(3) having the necessary funds for school-running and stable financial sources;
(4) having the sites, facilities and equipment for teaching that are necessary for its tasks of teaching and school-running scale;
(5) having full-time leading members, qualified full-time teachers and an internal management organization; and
(6) being rationally distributed.
No matching article
Has been spread out through many different articles. Will be covered in their new locations.
No matching article
Has been spread out through many different articles. Will be covered in their new locations.

This one is also about religious schools.  We’ll get to the specifics in the new regulations later.

Article 9

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
10. In light of the need of the religion concerned, a national religious body may, in accordance with the relevant provisions, select and send people for religious studies abroad, or accept foreigners for religious studies in China. 9. National religious groups and those of the provinces, autonomous regions, and directly-governed municipalities may, based on the need of their respective religions, select and receive religious students studying overseas in accordance with provisions; other organizations or individuals must not select and accept religious students studying overseas. 9. National religious groups and those of the provinces, autonomous regions, and directly-governed municipalities may, based on the need of their respective religions, select and receive religious students studying overseas in accordance with provisions; other organizations or individuals must not select and accept religious students studying overseas.

Here we have a “clarification” of regulations regarding interactions with outsiders. 

First of all, notice that it says “based on the need” of the religion.  Of course, there’s always the question of who defines what those needs are.

Which brings us to the second point – only government approved religions are allowed to have any interactions.  As such, the government and the religion are one – so it’s essentially the government deciding on the needs of the government’s own “religion”.  Kind of an amazing concept for an officially atheist government, isn’t it?  Obviously, it;s not much of a religion.

Finally, note the addition of a prohibition on non-government supported religions either sending or receiving people to / from other countries.  Not that it was ever really allowed anyway.  This just makes it crystal clear.

Article 10

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
No matching article
Used to be in Chapter III:
Article 12 Collective religious activities of religious citizens shall, in general, be held at registered sites for religious activities (i.e., Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples, mosques, churches and other fixed premises for religious activities), organized by the sites for religious activities or religious bodies, and presided over by religious personnel or other persons who are qualified under the prescriptions of the religion concerned, and the process of such activities shall be in compliance with religious doctrines and canons.
10. Religious schools, sites for religious activities, and religious professionals shall abide by the canons formulated by religious groups.

Note: much of this has been moved to other articles. Will be covered in their new locations.

10. Religious schools, religious activity sites, and religious professionals shall abide by the rules formulated by religious groups.

Note: much of this has been moved to other articles. Will be covered in their new locations.

While much of the law relating to religious schools has been removed from this article and placed in others, this one remains.  The translation is essentially that the religious schools, religious activities, and religious professionals – who work in the government approved religions – will follow the rules for that religion.  Rules which were made and approved by the government.

No matching article in new regulations – used to be 11 in the old ones

2005 regulations about to be replaced 2016 deliberation draft – not approved final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations – Article 1
11. The making of hajj abroad by Chinese citizens who believe in Islam shall be organized by the national religious body of Islam. No matching article
Has been moved to different article. Will be covered in its new location.
No matching article
Has been moved to different article. Will be covered in its new location.

For those who aren’t aware, Hajj is a pilgrimage done by Muslims.  Here, one can assume that if anyone is actually allowed to go, they will be very closely watched and indoctrinated on the differences between what they will experience and hear in the hajj.  It’s pretty much essential, to prevent the person from starting to believe in something other than what the official government version of Islam approves.

Conclusion

As we proceed further and further into these regulations, it’s important to remember what Jesus told us about things like this.

Mt 10:17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Mt 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

These are part of the instruction Jesus gave the twelve disciples before He sent them out.  Christians today are really an extension of those twelve, so the same applies to us.

There’s something else to remember as well.  The things we experience, including what’s happening in China, must be made known to others.  To the extent that we Christians are silent about this, the ones suffering are somewhat alone.  We should not let that happen.  

 

When I read of things like what’s happening in China, I think of the Church in Philadelphia, from Revelation.

Rev 3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

It feels like this passage is more for those who struggle a great deal under difficult conditions.  For those of us who don’t have the extreme difficulties, it’s too easy to slip.  Too easy to wander from the narrow path.  When we have to fight harder to stay on the path, it seems that we’re willing to put out more effort to stay on that path.  So for those few in China and in other places like it – this one’s for you.  I pray I will get to meet you in the next life.

 


China’s Religious Affairs Regulations, are described as follows by the Chinese government and Reuters news agency.  Yes, believe it or not, they both describe the same thing.

China has revised its regulation on religious affairs, to take effect on Feb 1, 2018, according to a decree signed by Premier Li Keqiang and released by the State Council on Sept 7.

The last version of the regulation was released in November 2004 and took effect in March 2005.

The regulation is formulated with the goal of protecting citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintaining religious and social harmony and regulating the management of religious affairs.

It specified that citizens are entitled to the right of freedom of religion.

Well, that’s what the official press release says.  The quote above is from the English version published by The State Council, The People’s Republic of China.  You” see more quotes from the site as we go through Article I of the new Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs.

On the other hand, Reuters has this take on the new Chinese Regulations on Religious Affairs –

President Xi Jinping has emphasized the need to guard against foreign infiltration through religion and the need to prevent the spread to “extremist” ideology, while also being tolerant of traditional faiths that he sees as a salve to social ills.

The officially atheist ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate.

The rules, which come into effect on Feb 2, 2018, also place new oversight on online discussion of religious matters, on religious gatherings, the financing of religious groups and the construction of religious buildings, among others.

They increase existing restrictions on unregistered religious groups to include explicit bans on teaching about religion or going abroad to take part in training or meetings.

There are differences between the China and Reuters statements.  You’ll see, as we go through the entire document, which statement is more accurate.  Spoiler alert: it’s not the official one.

And so – let’s begin.

We’ll go through each of the six Articles in the final version of China’s Religious Affairs Regulations Chapter 1. 

Please note, there were five articles in the previous version of the regulations.  That was the 2005 version.  

When the draft 2016 regulations came out, there were six articles.  The 2016 draft was not published, as mentioned in earlier posts in the series.  Because of complaints by religious organizations, it was modified and now has the final form of the 2017 version.  The final version will go into effect February 1, 2018.

We’ll look at each article, starting with a comparison of the current (soon expiring) 2005 version to the draft 2016 version.  That will show what the original changes were meant to be.  Then, we’ll compare the 2016 draft to the final 2017 version.  Then, we’ll see that the old adage “be careful what you ask for”, is still alive and well.  Complaints about the draft version weren’t met with something more acceptable, but with replies that were even worse than the original.

One final note:  In order to make things easier to read, I’m taking the liberty of adding a, b, c, Etc. to each Article number to denote the paragraphs.  They aren’t part of the original English translation.  However, it’s far easier to say Article 2b than it is to say the second paragraph of Article 2.  Since the numbers don’t line up perfectly between the various versions of regulations, we’ll use the Article numbers from the 2016 final document.

return

 


Sources:

2005 regulations:  U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China 
https://www.cecc.gov/resources/legal-provisions/regulations-on-religious-affairs

2016 draft regulations: China Law Translate
http://www.chinalawtranslate.com/religious-regulations/?lang=en#_Toc461114371

2017 final regulations: China Law Translate
https://www.chinalawtranslate.com/%E5%AE%97%E6%95%99%E4%BA%8B%E5%8A%A1%E6%9D%A1%E4%BE%8B-2017/?lang=en

References   [ + ]

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