The Chinese Government has banned members of the country’s ruling Communist Party from holding any religious beliefs.
An article written by Wang Zuaon, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, revealed that all Party members must abandon religion for Marxist atheism or be punished.
It also stated that religious groups should be ‘guided’ by the state in altering their doctrine in order to promote “socialist core values”.
Over 88 million people are members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and many apply to join the Party in order to enjoy better career prospects.
The CPC believes that foreigners have used Christianity and Islam to deliberately spread their political views in China and so undermine the Party, leading Wang Zuaon to introduce the permanent regulations.
He wrote: “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members”.
“Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party’s faith… they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion”, he added.
Wang also wrote that Party officials who have a religious faith should be persuaded to give it up, and those who resisted would be punished by the CPC.
Su Wei, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Chongqing Committee responded to Wang’s regulations by referring to Christianity as part of “China’s religious problem”.
Christianity in China has been accused of being a national security risk, and in the past few years, hundreds of Christian pastors and activists have been arrested.
The international freedom watchdog Freedom House said in March that as many as 100 million people in China are facing “high” or “very high” levels of persecution under Communist rule.
However while religious freedom is under threat, Christianity has been growing exponentially in China.
Academics predict that by 2030 China will have more than 247 million Christians, which would be more than 17 per cent of the projected population.
In 2014 the Economist revealed a crackdown by the Chinese government accross large areas of the country.
Hundreds of ‘house churches’ and official churches were closed as the state sought to contain the spreading Christianity, which had migrated from rural areas into the cities.
In spite of this, Christians were beginning to play a more active role in society and even taking roles within the Party.