As much as we tend to think of China as becoming more like America, they are still a totalitarian state without the basic freedoms we take for granted.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has recently declared that all members – of which there are roughly 85 million – must be atheists. New members will be screened and current members will be forced to denounce or “rectify” previous or existing religious beliefs.
The CPC has also recently banned any and all textbooks that promote “Western values” or criticize the Party’s leadership from Chinese schools.
The requirement that bars religious believers from joining the CPC is a “long-standing but little-enforced rule,” reports Huffington Post. China’s official “religion” is atheism, but the communist nation recognizes these five faiths: Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
Intolerance against Islam, Christianity, and Western values in general has increased under President Xi Jinping’s leadership. Buddhism and Taoism are tolerated because they have deep Asian origins.
Over the past year, more than 200 Christian churches in the Zhejiang city of Wenzhou have been marked for demolition.
Zhejiang’s Communist leadership is spearheading the effort to enforce the Party’s atheism rule, but the sentiment is echoed throughout the nation and is backed by the government.
“Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members,” writes Wang Zuoan, a spokesman with China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs. “Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules, and stick to the party’s faith…they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion.”
Wang believes people should be guided not by religion, but by “socialist core values” and “traditional Chinese culture.” According to a report by the UK-based Christian Institute, Wang has promised that CPC members who resist the rule “will be punished.”
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping insists that China must “guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means and prevent ideological infringement by extremists.”
By “infiltrations,” Xi is referring not only to Christianity, but also to Western values like freedom of speech and multiparty democracy.
According to the Institute’s report, Christianity has been labeled a “natural security risk,” and “hundreds of Christian pastors and activists have been arrested” over the past few years.
Despite increasing persecution, however, Christianity in China is surging. The Institute predicts that by 2030, roughly 17% of China’s population will be made up of Christians (that’s over 247 million people).
Could it be that these people are turning to religion to escape the iron grip of Communism?