02/05/2018, 16.01
CHINA – VATICAN
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Protestant clergyman calls for resistance to new regulations on religious activities

In an analysis of the new regulations, Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu (Sichuan) promises to fight the new legislation, which violates religious freedom, whatever the cost. He also appeals to fellow Christians.

Chengdu (AsiaNews/China Source) – China’s new regulations on religious activities have come into effect as of 1st February. AsiaNews looked at the proposed rules in September 2016, and at a final draft in September 2017.

Although 1st February was the official kickoff date, implementation of the new rules began earlier. Their aim is to boost control over official communities and undermine underground communities, whatever their religious affiliation.

Recently, ChinaSource, an online news platform, published an analysis of the new regulations by Rev Wang Yi, a pastor with the Early Rain Church, based in Chengdu (Sichuan).

In his post, Rev Wang lays out a clear critical analysis of the new regulations and warns China’s Protestants that they will soon come under new pressures as a result.

His opinion is clear. The new regulations are a violation of religious freedom, which the Chinese constitution upholds, at least in theory. This is why Chinese Christians must resist them.

Pastor Wang Yi is known in China as a very candid critic of the regime's religious policy. For him, “The new regulations have crossed the line in using the public excuse of ‘major and urgent public interests’ to restrict citizens’ constitutional rights.”

Now the authorities are truing “to establish a universal system of religious control,” not limited to the Religious Affairs Bureau but is extended to all levels of government.

What is more, the new regulations repeatedly cite problems religions can create, from social divisions to terrorism; thus, focusing on religion primarily as a danger. Permits and controls range from lowest to highest level: village, county, city, province, central government.

“This is not administrative legislation to protect religious freedom – it is legislation against religious freedom. It is clear from these new regulations that the ‘fighting atheists’ and anti-religious ultra-leftist ideology in government still hold the dominant role in the religious administrative system.”

Pastor Wang won’t take things lying down. “Despite any of the regulations’ administrative decisions and possible punishments for me and my church, my conscience constrains me to reject these regulations. I shall use any nonviolent, legal means necessary to urge the government to reconsider: whether by litigation, appeals, lodging complaints, or submitting a constitutional review of the regulations before the National People’s Congress. I oppose these regulations’ serious infringement of citizens’ freedom of religion, and I oppose their illegal restrictions of Christianity.”

The clergyman ends his appeal by encouraging “all Christians who work in law, politics, public welfare, education, and related fields, to either bravely speak out with a loud voice, or to quietly advance the abolishment and change of these unlawful laws.”

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