Chinese flag raised in churches, prayer meetings in religious places ahead of National Day
More than a million Catholics across 4,000 churches raised the Chinese national flag and sang the national anthem this week to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the country under the Communist Party of China (CPC), state media reported.
Separately, the Chinese Islamic, Buddhist, and Daoist associations also held “prayer” meetings for the country to display their “patriotism” and “love for the country” ahead of the October 1 anniversary.
The events at the churches were held “spontaneously”, the tabloid Global Times quoted a statement from the CPC-appointed Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China as saying.
Beijing has been aggressively – and officially—pursuing the “sinicisation” of religions in China which could be broadly defined as an effort to mould religions practised in the country in line with the CPC’s objectives and the culture of the majority Han community.
In 2015, President Xi Jinping had spoken about sinicising the five major religions practised in China: Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, and Daoism.
In Shanghai, an exhibition has been put together to display “…how Christians in China loved the country and the church during different periods such as in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and the period of War of Liberation (1946-49),” Yu Wenliang, chairperson of the Yunnan branch of the National Committee of (the CPC-appointed) Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China said.
Earlier this month, the China Islamic Association held a seminar on Muslims’ patriotic sentiments and practices in Tianjin, a directly administered municipality some 100 km from Beijing.
The seminar aimed to “…lead Muslims of all ethnic groups to adhere to the orientation of the Sinicisation of Islam in the new era, cement the sense of community of the Chinese nation and pay tribute to the 70th anniversary,” the newspaper report said.
Similar forums are being organised across China by Daoist and Buddhist associations where participants are being asked to strengthen patriotism and political awareness of the CPC.
A government policy paper released in April said China has “…nearly 200 million religious believers and more than 380,000 clerical personnel.”
“Catholicism and Protestantism have 6 million and 38 million followers in China, respectively, with 8,000 and 57,000 clerical personnel,” the white paper added.
It is widely believed that the number of Chinese who practise religion – especially Catholicism – privately for fear of government censure is much larger.