03/07/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Members challenge Communist Party on religion

Internal debate about an anti-religion directive of the CP of Liaoning, reveals the profound dissent of those who maintain their right to belong to a religious faith, and who judge positively the effect religion has on people.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Party commands and its members challenge. This would seem to be the conclusion of the internal debate sparked by the diktat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CP) of Liaoning against the adherence of party members to a religious faith. AsiaNews has come into possession of a series of internal interviews with government representatives, Party figures and others from state and private enterprises, and with simple members.

The document records the statements of the Party, followed by comments of members.

There is a battle against the influence of opinions and actions which could diminish the purity of the Party. In this battle, the Party believes that religion is a serious problem, which cannot be ignored. Communist atheism and historical dialectical materialism should be emphasized.

Liu Fuan, one of the CP managers of a large state enterprise. I don't believe in any religion and I have no interest in religion. But this document smacks of the past and does not correspond to the current Communist mentality. There are different opinions among the Communists: the improvement of the quality of Communists lies in education. But it is not about fighting against religions, as the document says. This is no longer the time to talk about class conflict. How many Communists still form part of the workers' class? I am a Party leader, but I am also the manager of a company, I do not belong to the working class anymore and many other Party members have important positions and are partners in companies. Even in state television propaganda, the superiority of Communists is underlined by pointing them out as those who became rich before the others. And even these are not part of the working class. Thus, Communists no longer uphold the class struggle, or historical materialism, because this no longer has any meaning.

Hu Zhong Heng, policeman. There are many Communists who behave badly. For example, even if the government arrests many corrupt people, there are always more who find ever more refined ways to be corrupt. From this, we can see how Communist education has failed. On the contrary, religious faith can give people great morality. Even as regards crimes and violence, members of some religion are never among those who commit them. If there were more believers among Communists, it will be useful for the purity of Communism.

Communists are citizens, but they are not common citizens, because they are the avant-guarde of the working class. The constitution of the Party says the Communists must fight the ideals of capitalism and feudalism and all those which are not of the proletariat. No one can deny that religion is a non-proletariat concept and so how could the Communists go and "soil themselves with them"?

Han De Xiang, provincial Party leader. Can we still say Communists are the avant-guarde of the Chinese working class? The unemployed are workers, the leaders are intellectuals. The document talks about concepts which are not of the proletariat to mean things which are not good. But now, we are reviving the return of the ancient, popular morality of China, as is recorded in the thoughts of Confucius. But how many Confucian thoughts could be described as proletarian?

Wang Hui Wen, Party leader in a university. There are many universities which have set up institutes for religious studies. The aim is to increase the level of morality and therefore the quality of life of the nation. Western civilization is very influenced by the Christian religion; we need to study it, to boost the advancement of Party members. But all these are not proletarian thoughts, and when we talk of non proletarian thoughts, we talk about thoughts which are not healthy but corrupt.

Some Communists believe in a religion, others seek to correct them, but Lenin says religion is a private matter. And you cannot intervene on this point. However, Lenin also said something else, that for the party of the Socialist working class, religions are not a private matter and from our point of view, the fight for the change of mentality is a task of all the party, of all the working class.

Yang Li Min, manager of a large state-owned enterprise. What I believe in my heart is a private matter. In our company, there are some workers who are believers, including Communists. When we talk in the committee, we are all agreed that this is a private thing and we should not intervene. Workers who are believers live up to our expectations from all points of view.

Li Li Jun, a woman, head engineer of a state-owned industry. What man thinks in the depths of his heart is a private matter and is defended by the law. Joining the party does not cause him to lose a fundamental right of every citizen. In the past, the Party obliged us to write reports about our way of thinking. I can say everything we wrote was false. What do you care about what there is in my heart?

Wang Hu, director of a private firm. In the past, what I liked least were the party cadres: if you did something they did not like, they immediately wrote it down, analysed it and it would end up on your personal file. This would have an impact on your career. In my file, there is still something written that during the Cultural Revolution, my mother said: "There was a time when pigs used to eat what we are eating now." We used to say the party cadres lived off politics, doing harm to others. This article has made me discover that this type of person still exists, who lives off politics alone. I am not a believer but I think that those who have faith have good sides to them and this has a good effect of peace in society.

Sun Jia Ping, worker. The time when they could use Marx and Lenin to scare others is over now. If you prevent others from believing, they will believe in secret. I am a Protestant Christian and I frequent an underground Church. There's no need for the Party to expel me; if the section head was not my friend, I would have already left.

Guo Jian Ping, high school teacher of the Party. Many Communist theoreticians have criticized the views of Lenin and we do not refer anymore to Marxism-Leninism, but only to Marxism. Once, we described our political direction by saying it was according to the views of Marx and Mao. Now we no longer say that, because in reality, it does not fall within these ideological precepts anymore.

Among the Party members, there is the phenomenon of people who are believers. To resolve this problem, some university professors of sociology set up departments to study and resolve the problem. Already 10 years have gone by and, far from diminishing, the number of Communist believers has increased very much. I think the Party should face this reality: perhaps it's better to give Party members the permission to be believers. How many of the old views of Marxism do we conserve? We can get rid of some more.

Xin Zhen Zhong, engineer. The Party has always wanted to control people's thoughts, but it has always failed. You can order people not to speak, but you cannot prevent them from thinking. Believing in a religion is something linked to one's thoughts. This problem cannot be solved through political means: the only consequence will be that members who are believers will turn to underground churches.

 (Translation from Chinese by AsiaNews)

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