How Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America

How do Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America? General provisions should be, well, general. As such, we probably think they don’t really say much. They don’t have much detail. And they probably don’t get people too worried.

How Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America is article #3 in the series: China and America try to redefine Christianity. Click this button to view all titles for the series
How Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America?

It kind of reminds me of the earlier segments of the series when we looked at religious freedom.

It sounds good. Until you think about it.

Religious freedom for all is a pipe dream.

The American Constitution just says we have freedom of religion.

But our brief look at the Chinese press release on their regulations and just read the first couple articles of Chapter 1 of those regs, made it clear that religious freedom isn’t the goal in China.

So here’s the thing – is it better to be honest about what’s going on? Or is it better to try to pull the wool over the people’s eyes and make things sound great?

The first six articles, Chapter 1, of China’s 2017 Religious Affairs Regulations deal with General Provisions.

The governmental realities in China and the U.S.

China and the U.S. have obvious political differences.

China claims to be democratic, but it’s really a dictatorship.

The U.S. also claims to be a democracy, but is really a federal democratic republic. Here’s something from one of the elected members of the House of Representatives from South Carolina:

The foundation of our American Government, its purpose, form and structure are found in the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution, written in 1787, is the “supreme law of the land” because no law may be passed that contradicts its principles. No person or government is exempt from following it.

The Constitution establishes a federal democratic republic form of government. That is, we have an indivisible union of 50 sovereign States. It is a democracy because people govern themselves. It is representative because people choose elected officials by free and secret ballot. It is a republic because the Government derives its power from the people.

The purpose of our Federal Government, as found in the Preamble of the Constitution, is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” In order to achieve this purpose the Founding Fathers established three main principles on which our Government is based:

    • Inherent rights: Rights that anyone living in America has;
    • Self Government: Government by the people; and
    • Separation of Powers: Branches of government with different powers.  1,by%20free%20and%20secret%20ballot.

Getting away from the fancy words that were meant to be understandable even by kids, let’s cut to the chase. For all practical purposes, the U.S. is functionally an oligarchy. That means it’s controlled by a small group of people. While our elections may be somewhat more open than dictatorships like China, the reality is that only rich people can afford to run. It’s also true that the very rich, through the use of uncontrolled superPACs, to whom they donate tons of money, very much control the outcomes.

Add in the electoral college, which means the person with the most votes doesn’t necessarily win the Residential election, and we have even less of a democracy.

Ultimately then, while both countries claim to be democratic, neither one truly is. It’s also true that in both countries, laws are frequently passed by and for the minority. And, in both cases, by the minority, I mean the rich and the powerful.

This doesn’t bode well for religious freedom. Oddly enough, even in the U.S. where so many who claim to be Christian appear to have lots of power and the ability to influence election outcomes, it doesn’t bode well for Christianity.

For better or for worse, at least in China Christians know where they stand.

Of course, this means Christianity, according to the government, has zero chance of being Christianity, as taught and modeled by its namesake Jesus Christ.

For those who recognize the difference, it can be a real dilemma. Make life easy and follow the government version of Christianity. Or maybe make life very difficult here on earth, but spend an eternity with the peace and joy from God in the next life.

Let’s begin taking a look at the consequences of having to make those choices.

How do Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America?

Article 1 – The purpose of Religious Affairs Regulations

Article 1: These Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws so as to ensure citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintain harmony among and between religions, maintain social harmony, regulate the administration of religious affairs, and increase the level of legalification in work on religion.

in accordance with the constitution

This applies to both China and the U.S.

By that, I don’t mean any of the laws actually are in accordance with the constitution of either country. As already pointed out, that’s just not going to happen. Some religions have beliefs that are, quite simply, incompatible with each other.

In the same way, various religions have beliefs that are in conflict with laws already passed. Or that will be passed. It’s unavoidable.

Depending on who’s in power, definitions of existing laws actually change. In China, laws tend to last longer, because the people in power stay in power longer. In the U.S., with ideologies/beliefs split so evenly, the power shifts can take place every other year, when one third of the House members are elected. On the other hand, in some cases, appointed judges can be in office for decades.

The thing is, the Constitution says what the people in power want it to say. Although the documents don’t change much at all, laws are added and removed all the time. And even those laws already in existence are often reinterpreted over time.

freedom of religious beliefs

As I already said – dream on. As far as the law is concerned, the religious beliefs that we’re free to have are both limited by the laws passed in the country in which we live.

When we add in – maintain harmony among and between religions, maintain social harmony – things get even messier. More limited.

In an atheist dictatorship, there’s no surprise here at all.

But in a country we are told is a democracy that espouses freedom of religion, it can be a shock. But unless you’re living in a cave, have no access with anyone, either in person or by any other communication method, you know there’s no such thing as harmony among and between religions.

Here in the U.S., even organizations that were previously part of the same religious denomination are showing incredible acrimony towards each other. Differing cultural beliefs are tearing religions apart. Differing interpretations of religious texts are doing the same. Religions that used to say God doesn’t change are now deciding that God did change, so things that used to be unholy are now to be celebrated.

To make matters worse, “religious” groups are going to the government to get their version of their religion to be the one to determine the laws by which everyone must live. Government leaders, lawyers, and judges are trying to define religions, in a very real sense, by dictating laws to let us know which ones are “right”.

James would be shocked. Well, no, he wouldn’t be shocked. He’d be writing a new letter on an old topic. If you don’t remember it, here’s part of the old letter.

Favoritism Forbidden

Jas 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Jas 2:5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Jas 2:8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Jas 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

In our case today, the favoritism is towards those who hold the same strict religious beliefs we do. All of a sudden, people who used to be brothers and sisters in Christ are considered doomed to jail for breaking man’s laws and to Hell for not following our truth on what God said.

increase the level of legalification in work on religion

If everything above wasn’t bad enough, there’s this idea to increase the level of legalification in work on religion. I know, legalification isn’t a word. But there’s no question as to what it means.

Both China and the U.S. are Hell-bent on doing this.

Conclusion – How Chinese religious affairs regulations general provisions compare with America

Back in 2016, when these regulations were still in draft, my plan was to learn about them, then write when they went final.

When they went final, my plan was to write about them. Then follow that up with questions on whether Aerica would follow suit.

It didn’t get very far.

Now, given how far we’ve come here in the U.S., my place is to go through the Chinese regulations, and show what the U.S. has done, is doing, and may do along the same lines.

We’ve come much further than I expected. It’s scary. And it’s sad.

The reason for both is that so many may be drawn away from God.

John wrote some warning from Jesus to His disciples in a section the NIV titled The World Hates The Disciples.

Of course, today, the disciples are the ones who truly follow Jesus. Not someone who claims to be Christian but doesn’t actually follow Jesus.

Check it out, and see how much of it you recognize, both from the world in general right now – and from what you just read.

The World Hates the Disciples

Jn 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

Jn 15:26 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Jn 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.”

If you didn’t catch it – notice in particular: Jn 16:1 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.

And isn’t that the point of what’s happening in China? They are on a path that has an ultimate goal to rewrite the Bible. And when it comes to Islam, the goal just seems to be to eradicate it. Muslims are sent to reeducation camps.

It’s easy to write about China. And it’s easy to get Americans to agree with a claim that China wants to redefine all religions, including Christianity.

But what about America? How many Americans, especially Christians, recognize the parallels between what happening here in the U.S. and what’s happening in China? At the core, both are about power. Political power. And power over people’s lives.

Yes, China states its goal very clearly. It’s more insidious here in the U.S. Politically active Christians are trying to force their views onto everyone. But they do it under the guise of their views of Christianity being the “correct” ones. The “Biblical” views.

t reminds me so much of when a certain serpent in a garden, thousands of years ago, asked – Did God really say …?

We’ll continue to look at the articles under the general regulations sections of the Chinese Religious Regulations in the next segment in this series. And, we’ll continue to see how the U.S. is going down a somewhat different path, and yet with the same end goal. To redefine Christianity.

My source for the Religious Affairs Regulations 2017 excerpts is China Law Translate. From their website:

China Law Translate (CLT) is a collaborative translation project dedicated to facilitating communication between Chinese and foreign legal professionals by creating fast and reliable translations of Chinese legal authority. Since its launch in 2013, CLT has become an authoritative English-language source for news and analysis on Chinese law, as well as an indispensable source of quality translations.

They are crowd sourced, and supposedly receive no funds from any countries.

I have compared their translations to a couple of others, and there appear to be no major discrepancies. Obviously, there are wording differences in any translation, but it appears to be accurate for our purposes here. Not legal advice – but to look at the culture, religion, and what these regulations attempt to do to both.

Text from the translation of the Chinese Religious Affairs Regulations with be formatted like this to identify them as such.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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