The Communist Party of China (CPC) is letting its members know that the party’s official adherence to militant atheism has not changed; Party members are not allowed to be Christians, or to hold any other religious beliefs. That is the clear message sent by a top Party official in an editorial published on November 14 in the Global Times, the international version of People’s Daily, the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the CPC.
The editorial, written by Zhou Weiqun, chairman of the Committee on Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, blasted Chinese academics who suggest that Communist Party members can also adhere to any religion. This prohibition against religion has been a “consistently upheld principle” since Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, declared Zhou. “It’s impossible to have another choice besides the dialectical materialist worldview.”
Zhou warned that if CPC members were allowed to have beliefs in various religions, the Party “would become a loosely bound group that can be broken down due to individual gain.” Consequently, he wrote, members must have “a united worldview.”
Zhou noted: "Without the foundation of the worldview, the mansion of the Party's ideologies, theories and organizations will all collapse. We could no longer be called the 'Chinese Communist Party.'"
Faced with rampant corruption by top Communist Party officials and billionaire princelings who run many of China’s largest corporations, CPC leaders have been investigating and prosecuting some high-profile offenders and making examples of them (see here and here).
Some Communist Party critics have suggested that the spiritual values imparted by religion might help reduce the immorality and corruption that is now so widespread amongst the CPC leadership. Zhou avoided directly confronting the issue of rampant corruption among the CPC’s officials, but declared that “blaming atheism for moral decline is an old absurdity.”
“Whether the general moral level of Chinese improved or declined since the reform and opening up needs to be specifically analyzed,” he said, referring to the policies initiated by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that introduced elements of a “socialist market system.”
As we have reported recently, Chinese authorities have been accelerating their attacks on religious believers, imprisoning Christian leaders and demolishing churches, even though China’s top leaders continue to insist that the Communist regime allows complete religious freedom.
Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims that:
Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities….
Chinese authorities point to this constitutional protection and to their Potemkin churches that are on display for foreign visitors as proof that the persecution instituted under Chairman Mao is a thing of the distant past.
However, the Preamble of the same PRC Constitution also states:
The basic task of the nation in the years to come is to concentrate its effort on socialist modernization. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue to adhere to the people's democratic dictatorship and follow the socialist road ... step by step to turn China into a socialist country with a high level of culture and democracy.
A consistent hallmark of "Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought" is militant atheism and a ruthless suppression of all religion — in the name of “the people's democratic dictatorship.”