Who gets to define religion? In our case, specifically, who gets to define the new Christianity? China passed new religious regulations almost six tears ago. I started to write about them a couple of times. It was never quite right though. I felt like the U.S., in some way, was going to copy what China did. As it turns out, we’re doing just that,
Who gets to define religion? Actually, the better question is – who gets to redefine religion? Maybe even who defines “of”. We’re looking at China in this series, but the same issues come up everywhere. It’s all about who sets the rules. One thing we can be sure of – it’s not God. Not in China. And not in my country or yours either.
How do religion and society fit together? Should religion and society fit together? And if those weren’t already tough enough questions, who gets to decide the answers? Religious leaders? Social activists? The government? But hang on a minute. Just when it seems like it can’t possibly get worse, it does. What if religion, everything related to society in general, and the government are all controlled by the same people?
Do you think that’s impossible? It’s not. It’s happening. Right now. In China, they’re well on their way to making it happen. The Communist Party is continuing to strengthen its hold on pretty much everything about official religion and Chinese society. Here in the U.S., many would like it to happen. Who exactly will be in control isn’t officially decided yet. But it appears that the government is winning, with Christians bowing down to the President.
Protecting laws from religion? Management of religious affairs is about protecting what is lawful. That last sentence is the English translation of something from China’s Religious Affairs Regulations. But does that even make sense? China claims their citizens have freedom of religious belief. So shouldn’t laws about religion be concerned with protecting those religions?
What’s this thing about protecting the law from religion? It sounds so backwards. And yet, is it even unusual? We claim to have religious freedom in the U.S. So do many countries. But are we really doing anything different than China? In other words, is the real issue that China isn’t hiding what they’re doing? Let’s find out.
Citizens have freedom of religious belief. That’s the English translation of something from China’s Religious Affairs Regulations. But is it really true?
Remember, China is a Communist country. And an officially atheist one as well. We must be forgiven if we doubt those fine-sounding words. Especially after reading part 1 of this series.
Remember, Article 1 of these regulations included the text, “increase the level of legalification in work on religion” as one of the stated goals for putting them into law. How does that even make sense?
To some, the idea of religious freedom in China sounds like an oxymoron. You know – a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Given that China is an officially atheist country, “religion” in China certainly isn’t what people in the so-called west expect. Further, the concept of freedom of religion in an atheist country like China is, if it’s possible, even more of an oxymoron.
And yet …
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Are we at the beginning of the end of Christianity in Hong Kong? A while back, I started to write about new religious regulations in China. Mainland China, with the atheist Communist government. But it got side-tracked by everything else going on in the world and here in the U.S. However, I think it’s time to not only bring it back, but to emphasize it even more. The new Hong Kong Security Law makes it imperative.
When I began to write about the Chinese religious regulations, I pointed out that they are essentially a blueprint for other countries to follow. Well, China may very well be following them, although in a somewhat hidden fashion, with the Hong Kong Security Law. Given the “one world religion” foretold in the Bible, I expect this kind of thing to spread literally world-wide. That’s why it’s so important for us – Christians – to understand.
China Pushes for New Hong Kong Security Law. Sure, it sounds like it’s got nothing to do with religion in general – or Christianity specifically. And yet, this is China. An atheist country trying to redo Christianity into something in the image of the atheist Communist Party. That should be cause for concern. Let’s see why.
What is freedom of religion? It depends. Who gets to define freedom? And who defines religion? Maybe even who defines “of”. We’re looking at China in this series, but the same issues come up everywhere. It’s all about who sets the rules. One thing we can be sure of – it’s not God. Not in China. And not in my country or yours either.
Here’s the thing about freedom – of religion or of anything. See that eagle flying around in the sky? That eagle is free. But he’s probably looking for someone to eat. Something alive. And when the eagle finds his target, a little bit of freedom is lost. A life is gone. And the eagle remains free.
With people, freedom of religion is kind of like that. Someone’s “flying around” above us. Someone who either doesn’t like our religion, or likes theirs better. Sometimes they hate our religion so much they want to kill it. If they’re strong enough – they can certainly take out individual people. Even any given church building. But can they destroy an entire religion?
Is it possible to have “freedom of religious belief” and maintain social harmony? Sounds difficult, doesn’t it. Experience tells us it’s pretty much impossible. Does it have to be this way? Or are there things outside of religion that make it so difficult?
Is it even worse when governments get involved and laws are created? And does it get even worse when the laws are created to enforce “harmony”?