Antireligious campaigns in China

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The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked by Red Guards in November 1966.[1][2]
Falun Gong books are destroyed following announcement of the ban in 1999.

Antireligious campaigns in China refer to the promotion of state atheism, coupled with the persecution of the religious, in China.[3][4][5] These anti-religious campaigns started occurring in 1949, after the Cultural Revolution,[6] and continue today, with an emphasis on the destruction of houses of worship, such as churches.[7]

Cultural Revolution[edit]

As a result of anti-religious campaigns carried out between 1950 and 1979, churches, mosques and temples were closed and reeducation was coerced upon clergy.[8]

The Cultural Revolution also criminalized the possession of religious texts.[9] Monks were either beaten or killed.[10]

Jiang régime[edit]

The Chinese government, under the leadership of Jiang Zemin, sponsored the persecution of Falun Gong; it called for the "education of Marxist materialism and atheism" to counter that faith.[11]

Xi régime[edit]

The most recent antireligious campgaign has been instated by current party General Secretary Xi Jinping, who reemphasized that members of the Communist Party of China must be "unyielding Marxist atheists" and also "instituted a broad campaign to suppress all forms of dissent."[12][13]

In the Chinese province of Zhejiang alone, over one-thousand two hundred Christian crosses have been removed from their steeples since 2013.[14]

In August 2017, a number of Catholic Christian priests, as well as laypeople, were injured when trying to prevent a government bulldozer from demolishing their historic church in the Shanxi province.[15][16] In February 2018, government authorities in Kashgar, "launched an anti-religion propaganda drive through local police stations", which included policemen erecting a banner proclaiming “We Must Solemnly Reject Religion, Must Not Believe in Religion”.[17]

As of November 2018, in present-day China, the government has detained many people in internment camps, "where Uighur Muslims are remade into atheist Chinese subjects".[18] For children forcibly taken away from their parents, the Chinese government has established "orphanages" with the aim of "converting future generations of Uighur Muslim children into loyal subjects who embrace atheism".[18]

In December 2018, officials raided Christian churches just prior to Christmas and coerced them to close; Christmas trees and Santa Clauses were also forcibly removed.[19][20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asiaweek, Volume 10.
  2. ^ Jeni Hung (April 5, 2003). "Children of confucius". The Spectator. Archived from the original on March 21, 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
  3. ^ Blondeau, Anne-Marie; Buffetrille, Katia (8 April 2008). Authenticating Tibet. University of California Press. p. 165. ISBN 9780520249288. This virulent anti-religion campaign seems to be officially linked to the development plan for western Tibet, for which social stability is necessary (see Part VIII, "Economic Development," below). But the hardening of this policy in Tibet is probably also a consequence to spread atheism launched in China, in response to the religious problems mentioned above, including problems inside the Party.
  4. ^ Dark, K.R. (26 January 2000). Religion and International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 62. ISBN 9781403916594. Interestingly, atheist campaigns were most effective against traditional Chinese religions and Buddhism, whereas Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities not only survived these campaigns, but were among the most vocal of the political opposition to the governments as a consequence of them.
  5. ^ "China announces "civilizing" atheism drive in Tibet". BBC Online. 12 January 1999. Retrieved 3 September 2017. The Chinese Communist Party has launched a three-year drive to promote atheism in the Buddhist region of Tibet, saying it is the key to economic progress and a weapon against separatism as typified by the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama. The move comes amid fresh foreign reports of religious persecution in the region, which was invaded by China in 1950.
  6. ^ Johnson, Ian (23 April 2017). "China's Unregistered Churches Drive Religious Revolution". The Atlantic. Retrieved 3 September 2017. “It’s hardly celebrated here at all,” he said. “We had this break in our history—you know, the missionaries being expelled in 1949 and then the anti-religious campaigns—so a lot has been lost. A lot of people don’t really know too much about Lent. We had a service trying to reintroduce the idea and explain it.”
  7. ^ "China's anti-Christian crusade". The Washington Post. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2017. The profusion of churches seems to have unnerved some Chinese authorities, who have undertaken a campaign to tear down hundreds of crosses, and in some instances entire churches, in Zhejiang, a coastal province where a prosperous Christian community and large numbers of churches have taken root.
  8. ^ Buang, Sa'eda; Chew, Phyllis Ghim-Lian (9 May 2014). Muslim Education in the 21st Century: Asian Perspectives. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 9781317815006. Subsequently, a new China was found on the basis of Communist ideology, i.e. atheism. Within the framework of this ideology, religion was treated as a 'contorted' world-view and people believed that religion would necessarily disappear at the end, along with the development of human society. A series of anti-religious campaigns was implemented by the Chinese Communist Party from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. As a result, in nearly 30 years between the beginning of the 1950s and the end of the 1970s, mosques (as well as churches and Chinese temples) were shut down and Imams involved in forced 're-education'.
  9. ^ Grim, Brian J.; Finke, Roger (2010). The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781139492416. Seeking a complete annihilation of religion, places of worship were shut down; temples, churches, and mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; sacred texts were burnt; and it was a criminal offence even to possess a religious artifact or sacred text. Atheism had long been the official doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party, but this new form of militant atheism made every effort to eradicate religion completely.
  10. ^ Pittman, Don Alvin (2001). Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu's Reforms. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824822316. Yet in the first years after Liberation there were places in China where monasteries were destroyed, monks were beaten or killed, copies of the Buddhist canon were burned, and sacred images were melted down for their metal.
  11. ^ Xiao, Ming (2012). The Cultural Economy of Falun Gong in China: A Rhetorical Perspective. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 9781611172072.
  12. ^ Wiser, Daniel (27 April 2015). "Chinese Persecution of Christians Reaches Highest Level in a Decade". The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  13. ^ Campbell, Charlie (25 April 2016). "China's Leader Xi Jinping Reminds Party Members to Be 'Unyielding Marxist Atheists'". Time. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  14. ^ Luxmoore, Jonathan (4 December 2015). "China's Catholics fear new anti-Christian campaign". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 3 September 2017. Police began tearing down crosses in the coastal city of Wenzhou in late 2013, citing building regulations, and have since removed more than 1,200 crosses throughout Zhejiang. The campaign was protested by China's state-approved Catholic and Protestant associations, as well as by Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, who appealed to Communist Party chiefs in August to "return to the right path." However, Catholic sources say up to 4,000 crosses may have been targeted for removal from spires and towers, while churches have also been bulldozed and numerous Christians arrested for protesting.
  15. ^ Zaimov, Stoyan (31 August 2017). "'Jesus Save Me!' Chinese Christians Shout as They Try to Save Church From Bulldozers". The Christian Post. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Chinese Catholics try to stop the demolition of their church in Changzhi, Shanxi (VIDEO)". AsiaNews. 29 August 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  17. ^ Hoshur, Shohret (12 February 2018). "Xinjiang Authorities Launch Anti-Religion Campaign Through Local Police Stations". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  18. ^ a b Beydoun, Khaled A. "For China, Islam is a 'mental illness' that needs to be 'cured'". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  19. ^ Holl, Daniel (20 December 2018). "Chinese City Cuts Down Christmas". The Epoch Times. City law enforcement officials were ordered to “crack down on street-side Christmas trees, Santa Clauses and anything related to Christmas,” said the memo. “Completely control the use of park-squares and other public spaces against promoting religious propaganda activities.” Communism, being officially atheist, has long been at odds with anything related to faith or religion, and Christmas has long since been a target. Other far-left political groups, including the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and even the Nazi Party, suppressed Christmas related activities.
  20. ^ "Alarm over China's Church crackdown". BBC. 18 December 2018. Among those arrested are a prominent pastor and his wife, of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan. Both have been charged with state subversion. And on Saturday morning, dozens of police raided a children's Bible class at Rongguili Church in Guangzhou. One Christian in Chengdu told the BBC: "I'm lucky they haven't found me yet." China is officially atheist, though says it allows religious freedom.
  21. ^ "Santa Claus won't be coming to this town, as Chinese officials ban Christmas". South China Morning Post. 18 December 2018. Christmas is not a recognised holiday in mainland China – where the ruling party is officially atheist – and for many years authorities have taken a tough stance on anyone who celebrates it in public. ... The statement by Langfang officials said that anyone caught selling Christmas trees, wreaths, stockings or Santa Claus figures in the city would be punished. ... While the ban on the sale of Christmas goods might appear to be directed at retailers, it also comes amid a crackdown on Christians practising their religion across the country. On Saturday morning, more than 60 police officers and officials stormed a children’s Bible class in Guangzhou, capital of southern China’s Guangdong province. The incident came after authorities shut down the 1,500-member Zion Church in Beijing in September and Chengdu’s 500-member Early Rain Covenant Church last week. In the case of the latter, about 100 worshippers were snatched from their homes or from the streets in coordinated raids.

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