Chinese Communist Party getting too religious, senior Party official reminds members to believe what they’re told

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reports that a senior Chinese Communist Party official has reminded the increasingly religious ranks of the Party what they’re required to believe. From China party official warns members over religion (AP)

“Religious practice among Chinese Communist Party members is increasing and threatens its unity and national leadership, a top party official said in remarks reported Monday.

“Party members are required to be atheists and must not believe in religion or engage in religious practice, said Zhu Weiqun, a member of the party’s Central Committee […]

“”Voices have appeared within the party calling for an end to the ban on religion, arguing in favor of the benefits of religion for party members and even claiming the ban on religion for party members is unconstitutional,” Zhu said.

“”In fact, our party’s principled stance regarding forbidding members from believing in religion has not changed one iota,” he said.”

8 thoughts on “Chinese Communist Party getting too religious, senior Party official reminds members to believe what they’re told”

  1. Why should they need a religion for that? Couldn’t they just derive adequate rationale and motivation for philanthropy from materialism?

    (This is a tangent) I think it’s kind of funny, in a way, that the guy quoted in the article (and many others, including myself sometimes) use “religion” as singular noun. It’s plural: religions. As a singular noun it’s a false category, because considering the diversity among all the things we typically think of when we think of ‘religions’ (and all the other ‘ideologies’ and ‘metanarratives’ and ‘traditions’ and ‘worldviews’ that aren’t considered ‘religions’ but might as well be given their character and function), it’s pretty pointless to generalize “religion.” Usually when people use that term, unless they’re being polemical (“religion is bad”), they actually mean something more specific anyway (like theism, or church participation, sincere devotion to the specific religion being discussed, etc.).

  2. They don’t need to be religious at all to be philanthropic, but the possibility of becoming more so by taking on a religion is there. Good point on the word religion.

  3. That’s really charitable of you. But it sounds like you’re saying theistic worldviews are more philanthroply powerful than atheistic (materialistic) worldviews. Most atheists I meet say the opposite.

    I think I just invented a word!

    (Haha, sorry about the unprovoked “religion” rant… it’s just a personal pet peeve. :) )

  4. I think the problem of religion inside the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party is much bigger than they or anyone else realizes.

    When I was the Head Administrator of a Karma Kargyu Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Sydney, Australia, most of our funding came from wealthy Chinese on the mainland and some, I gather, were CCP officials.

    Myself, or the Head Tibetan Lama used to ring phone numbers we were given in secret in order to get funding for some of our projects such as inviting visiting Tibetan Lamas, including the [D.L.], and the Head of Our order, The Kamapa, to come to or centre for teachings. Either myself or the Lama would arrange to meet an intermediary in a park and be handed a thick brown envelope stuffed with cash or the money would be sent to our bank account. These very generous Chinese donors gave us no names or contact details. However, from some of the phone calls I made to China it became evident that some of the donors were Communist Party officials and not businessmen as we at first thought.

    Over time I found out that even the [D.L.] himself was mainly funded by Chinese money and some of it came from within the CCP.

    Later, when I was living at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the UK I met a number of Chinese who said they were Communist Party officials who were only in London to meet leading Tibetan Lamas at our monastery as it would destroy their careers if they revealed they were practicing Buddhists in China.

    Apparently, the reason for this seemingly strange behavior is that many Chinese and Burmese who practice Buddhism believe that, even if they haven’t the time to pray and meditate, if they donate generously to the Buddhist cause, they will be re-born as either wealthy businessmen or high ranking Communist Party Officials.

    This is why, I guess, why Christianity can never compete with Buddhism, at least, in China. You have to think, would you rather go to heaven or be re-born as an important Communist Party Official? For most Chinese, the answer is a no brainer: as a leading member of the Communist Party of China, of course!

  5. Joel, I understand the frustration you have, but I simply did not say that theists are more charitable, only that the CCP not being so may benefit from becoming so (doubtfully but possible).

    Atheism as a label is confusing in itself anyways as we are not an official group with a leader.

    Just to make my viewpoint clear, its possible by taking on religion that the party make even less charitable “donations” to say land owners when developing their land by interpreting their religion in their own way.

  6. @Carl,

    Yeah, I know what you meant. It just sounded interesting the way you phrased it, especially since certain kinds of atheists wouldn’t ever allow that any sort of non-materialistic beliefs could have a positive impact (and certainly not improve on atheistic materialism).

    [atheists] are not an official group with a leader.

    Neither are theists, though there are lots of officially atheist or theist groups with leaders. The New Atheists, for example, are a very particular group with specific beliefs to aggressively propagate; identifiable leaders who greatly shape the thinking, speaking and character of their followers through their personalities and teaching; organizations seeking influence in politics, education and popular consciousness; non-fiction and fiction literature for adults and children; conferences, summer camps, support groups and networks; etc., even special insider labels (‘Brights’), symbols (scarlet A) and slogans… The degree of formal institutionalization is beside the point, I think.

  7. @Dr Ross Grainger,

    That is the most interesting comment you’ve shared with us so far, at least for me. I did go edit out a few words that might trigger search filters or whatever (just because I’m paranoid and don’t want my personal blog blocked).

    Apparently, the reason for this seemingly strange behavior is that many Chinese and Burmese who practice Buddhism believe that, even if they haven’t the time to pray and meditate, if they donate generously to the Buddhist cause, they will be re-born as either wealthy businessmen or high ranking Communist Party Officials.

    While absurd on the surface, that Chinese Buddhists would donate large sums of money in the hopes of scoring enough reincarnation points to come back as a high ranking official in the explicitly atheist and anti-religion CCP is totally believable and so… China. And a good opportunity for people to note which aspects of being a Party member are considered the more important (i.e. not the prescribed ideology).

    Theologically, earning or buying forgiveness/karma/salvation/spirituality points/[fill in the blank] is not Christian at all, of course, though obviously somewhat similar in important ways to medieval Catholicism’s indulgences. (And I get that sometimes ideas at the popular level can actually conflict with the formal, core ideas of the religion. Does this behaviour — buying karma — square with standard, formal Mahayana Buddhist theology? That is the one we’re talking about, right? Generalizing here, I realize.)

    We see (and saw, in Taipei) the same basic behaviour a lot: large monetary donations to temples for the purpose of enhancing one’s karma/reincarnation potential. I once had a 10-year-old student (upper-class: mom’s a national celebrity dad’s a politician) tell me she wanted to be reincarnated as an American.

    This is why, I guess, why Christianity can never compete with Buddhism, at least, in China. You have to think, would you rather go to heaven or be re-born as an important Communist Party Official? For most Chinese, the answer is a no brainer: as a leading member of the Communist Party of China, of course!

    Ha. That’s some stiff competition!

    (Especially if people think the point of Christianity is to ‘go to heaven’ after you die.)

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