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State Council amends rules governing religion

By CUI JIA | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-08 09:12

Measure further protects freedom of belief; will take effect on Feb 1

The State Council passed a revised regulation on religious affairs on Thursday to further protect people's freedom of religious belief while combating religious extremism and related crimes.

The revised regulation aims to deal with newly emerging situations and problems, it said in a statement. It said it hopes the regulation, which will take effect on Feb 1, will help make people-with or without religious beliefs, or whose beliefs differ-to respect each other more and live harmoniously together.

The revised regulation clarifies that governments at all levels must provide public services to religious groups, institutes and facilities, the statement said. It also requires different governments to handle religious issues in accordance with the law.

Religious groups are encouraged to carry out charity work, and religious leaders and workers will be included in the social security system nationwide, the regulation said.

Religious groups can apply to open new facilities, and local governments are required to provide feedback within 30 days. Meanwhile, no individual or group other than a religious organization is allowed to erect a large-scale religious statue. Statues cannot be erected outdoors outside a religious facility, it said.

To better protect people who hold religious beliefs, the regulation bans all financial gain from religious facilities and activities. Also, no religious organization or facility should force followers to make donations.

The regulation prohibits the use of religion as a tool to sabotage national security, social order or China's education system, or to damage ethnic unity or carry out terrorist activities.

Promoting and supporting religious extremism is also prohibited.

To combat religious extremism, the regulation says that nonreligious or unauthorized facilities should not hold religious events. In addition, no one is allowed to carry out missionary work or set up religious groups in schools except religious institutes.

Under the revised regulation, religious organizations and facilities may not receive donations from foreign organizations or conditional donations. No religious organization should be under the control of foreign forces.

Religious facilities are also required to be on guard to prevent serious accidents, along with behaviors that violate religious taboos, injure the feelings of religious followers or disrupt ethnic unity or social stability.

The previous regulation on religious affairs was implemented in 2005.

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