State Administration for Religious Affairs
|Parent Department||State Council|
|State Administration for Religious Affairs|
The State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) was a functioning department under the State Council which oversaw religious affairs for the People's Republic of China. Originally created in 1951 as the Religious Affairs Bureau, SARA was closely connected with the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China and charged with overseeing the operations of China's five officially sanctioned religious organizations:
- Buddhist Association of China
- Chinese Taoist Association
- Islamic Association of China
- Three-Self Patriotic Movement (Protestant)
- Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
The State Administration for Religious Affairs was established to exercise control over religious appointments, the selection of clergy, and the interpretation of religious doctrine. SARA was also meant to ensure that the registered religious organizations support and carry out the policy priorities of the Communist Party of China. For instance, SARA has maintained a "living Buddha database" to track prominent Tibetan Buddhists who are loyal to the Communist Party of China.
Ye Xiaowen directed the SARA from 1995 to 2009. During his tenure, he issued the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5, which furthered state control over reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism, and attempted to suppress underground Catholics loyal to Rome (which he considered "colonial") and not to the government-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. After Ye was promoted to the Secretary of the CPC Committee at the Central Institute of Socialism, the former Deputy Director Wang Zuo'an was promoted to Director. Under the Xi Jinping administration, it was announced in 2018 that SARA was being dissolved and its functions would be collapsed into the United Front Work Department.
- United Front Work Department (Communist Party of China)
- State Ethnic Affairs Commission (State Council)
Similar government agencies
- Council for Religious Affairs (USSR)
- Ministry of Rites (imperial China)
- Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs (Yuan dynasty)
- Directorate of Religious Affairs (Turkey)
- Ng, Teddy; Lau, Mimi (21 March 2018). "Fears about Chinese influence grow as more powers given to shadowy agency". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- Joske, Alex (May 9, 2019). "Reorganizing the United Front Work Department: New Structures for a New Era of Diaspora and Religious Affairs Work". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 2019-07-27.
- Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Top Leaders Praise the Work of China's "Patriotic Religious Organizations" , 10 March 2010.
- "China publishes 'living buddha' list". BBC News. 2016-01-18. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
- Chin, Josh (2016-01-19). "China Launches Living-Buddha Authentication Site, Dalai Lama Not Included". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
- Cervellera, Bernardo (17 September 2009). "CHINA Ye Xiaowen, party hound on Vatican and religions, is promoted". www.asianews.it. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- 宗教局長換人 專家指政策不變 (New Chairman for SARA, Experts Says Policy Has Not Changed), Ming Pao, 18 September 2009.
- Liu, Caiyu (July 18, 2017). "Party members told to give up religion for Party unity or face punishment". Global Times.
[...] Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) wrote in an article released in the Qiushi Journal on Saturday, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee.
- Official website (in Chinese)