February 9, 2006


China: Twenty Million Communists at Prayer: This is how many persons are thought to belong to the communist party and, at the same time, adhere to a religion. The official stance forbids it. But some think this is a mistake – and are writing about it (Sandro Magister, February 10, 2006, Chiesa)

When, last January 9, speaking to the diplomatic corps, Benedict XVI lamented the absence of religious liberty "in some states, even among those who can boast centuries-old cultural traditions," everyone thought of China.

But very few knew about a surprising article published just before this in an important Hong Kong magazine, which stated that some religious faith is believed and practiced – in the more or less clandestine way – by fully one-third of the members of the CCP, the Chinese communist party, or 20 million members out of a total of 60 million.

The news of the article was extensively covered by the magazine "Mondo e Missione" of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan.

The article appeared in the November 2005 edition, on pages 8-9, of the monthly magazine of sociopolitical analysis "Zhengming [Discussions]", which is printed in Chinese in Hong Kong and is distributed on the mainland only among highly placed leaders. [...]

The leaders of the CCP have decided to react to this phenomenon. They are afraid, in fact, that this "will change the ideology of party members and lead to the disintegration of their political belief. The spirit of the party will tend to degenerate, and this will create all kinds of social and political crises in the party and in the country."

"Zhengming" reports that "on October 12, 2005, the central committee of the CCP approved the distribution of a document concerning the organizations and members of the party who are involved in, adhere to, and participate in religious activities."

The document delineates a five-point strategy, which the magazine sums up as follows:

"1. The organizations of the party, on whatever level, are not permitted under any sort of pretext to organize or participate in activities of a religious nature.

"2. Party members are not permitted to belong to religious organizations, including foreign religious organizations and activities. Particular situations must be examined by party committees on a provincial level.

"3. Those who already belong to religious organizations and participate in religious activities must, after receiving a warning, leave these immediately, suspend their religious practices and, on their own initiative, present a report.

"4. Anyone who participates in illegal and religious activities will be expelled and will be precluded from holding any post within or outside of the party. If illegal activities are involved, these will be investigated according to the law."

"Zhengming" follows these measures with its own comment:

"Marx said that religion is the opium of the people. This is the basis for the anti-religious policy of the CCP. But Engels said that the best way to help spread religion is to outlaw it. The Chinese communist party has turned a deaf ear to Engels' warning, and has always pursued a policy of hostility toward religion. […] Among the three great religions of the world, the one that the CCP hates the most is Christianity, because it is in the closest contact with modern civilization. This is why Christianity is a religion that undergoes the most serious attacks. But it is precisely for this reason that Christianity is more deeply rooted in the hearts of believers, and also why their influence is increasingly more widespread."

In conclusion:

"It is no wonder that those who hold the power in the Chinese communist party are afraid of this phenomenon, because it is the premonition that their dominion is on the verge of crumbling: therefore they think that they must bring it to a halt and severely control it. But these measures, apart from making party members hide their religious activities, can only reinforce their religious faith and bring it about that more and more members of the party draw near to religion."

Hitler's similar hatred of Christianity availed him naught.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 9, 2006 11:46 PM

They're not worried that free market captialism will "change the ideology of party members and lead to the disintegration of their political belief"?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at February 10, 2006 3:25 PM