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China Imposes New Religious Rules

October 10, 2016

Read the law here. Excerpts:

Article 4: Individuals and organizations must not create contradictions and conflicts between different religions, within a single religion, or between religious and non-religious citizens; must not advocate religious extremism, and must not use religion to undermine ethnic unity, divide the nation or carry out terrorist activities.

Article 5: All religions shall adhere to the principle of independence and self-governance; religious groups, religious schools, and sites for religious activities and religious affairs are not controlled by foreign forces.

Article 6: All levels of people’s government shall strengthen guidance of religious work, establish religious work mechanisms, and ensure the strength of religious work and necessary conditions for religious work.

The religious affairs department of the people’s government at the county level or above are to lawfully carry out management of religious affairs that involve State or public interests, and the other departments of the people’s government at the county level or above are to be responsible for the management of relevant affairs within the scope of their respective functions and duties.Villagers’ committees and residents’ committees assist people’s governments and relevant departments in managing religious affairs.

All levels of people’s governments shall hear the views of religious groups, religious schools, sites for religious activities, and religious citizens, and coordinate the management of religious affairs so as to provide public services to religious groups, religious schools and sites for religious activities.

Article 19: Religious activity sites include temples, Taoist temples, mosques, churches (hereinafter temples and churches) and other fixed premises for religious activities.

Standards for distinguishing temples and churches and other fixed sites for religious premises are to be formulated by the religious affairs departments of provincial, autonomous region, or directly governed municipality people’s governments, and reported to the religious affairs department under the State Council to be filed for the record.

Article 20: Religious activity sites shall meet the following conditions to be established:

(1) The purpose of their establishment is not contrary to articles 4 and 5 of this Regulation;

(2) The local religious citizens have need to regularly conduct collective religious activities;

(3) there are religious professionals or other personnel meeting the requirements of the religoin who intend to preside over the religious activities;

(4) have the necessary funds from legal sources and channels;

(5) Have a reasonable configuration meeting the requirements of urban and rural planning, and not impeding the ordinary lives and production of surrounding units and residents.

Article 36: Upon affirmation by a religious group and reporting to the religious affairs department of a people’s government at the county level or above to be filed for the record, religious professionals may engage in professional religious activities.

Those that have not obtained or have lost religious professional credentials, must not engage in activity as religious professionals.

Article 40: Collective religious activities of religious citizens shall , in general, be held at religious activity sites, be organized by religious activity sites, religious groups, or religious school organizations; and be presided over by religious professionals or other persons meeting the requirements of that religion’s rules; and conducted according to religious doctrines and canons.

Article 41: Non-religious groups, non-religious schools, and non-religious activity sites, must not hold religious activities, must not accept religious donations, and must not organize citizens leaving the country to participate in religious training, meetings, activities and so forth.

Article 67: Where a religious activities site is established without authorization, or where a religious activity sites site that has had its registration certificates cancelled continues to carry out religious activities, or where a religious school is established without authorization, the religious affairs department, together with the public security organs are to shut it down and confiscate the unlawful gains or illegal assets if any; where the unlawful gains or illegal assets cannot be determined, a fine of up to 50,000 yuan is imposed; the illegal houses or structures, if any, shall be disposed of by the competent department for construction in accordance with law; and where there is conduct in violation of public security management, a public security administrative sanction is be imposed in accordance with law:

Where a non-religious group, non-religious school, or non-religious activity site organizes or holds religious activities or accepts religious donations, the religious affairs department, together with the departments for public security, civil affairs, construction, culture, tourism, cultural artifacts, and so forth, will order it to discontinue the activities and will confiscate the unlawful gains and illegal assets, if any; and may give a fine of between one and three times the value of unlawful gains; where a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility is pursued in accordance with law.

Analysis from Christianity Today here.

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