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Public database to help verify accredited monks

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-23 08:58
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Disclosure of Buddhist, Taoist religious personnel to improve self-restraint

China launched a system to verify legally accredited and registered Buddhist and Taoist religious personnel on Wednesday, in order to promote the openness of religious affairs and fight against impostors who may take advantage of the vulnerable.

Released by the Buddhist Association of China and the Taoist Association of China at a conference in Beijing, the system will hold information on religious personnel, including their legal name, gender, photo, religious title, sect and registration number.

The system is available on the websites of the Buddhist Association of China, the Taoist Association of China and the National Religious Affairs Administration and at

Religious personnel represent the image of a religion to some extent, and so the information inquiry system will enable the public to check the accurate information of religious personnel at any time and anywhere, which has a strong practical significance, according to the associations.

The disclosure of information on Buddhist and Taoist religious personnel to the public will help the associations perform their statutory duties, strengthen the management of Buddhist and Taoist religious personnel, and improve their self-restraint.

The operation of the inquiry system will help to curb false monks using the name of religion to seek personal gain, protect the legitimate rights and interests of religions and ensure order among religious groups.

In recent years, some people have impersonated religious personnel to cheat and lie, which seriously tarnished the image of religious groups, causing strong dissatisfaction among religious groups and believers, who have called for stricter management and serious punishment of such illegal activities.

In one case, in February 2022, a video clip spread online showed a group of monks and nuns dining and handing out money at Wutai mountain — a sacred Buddhist site. However, these people were found to be impostors.

Establishing a unified national information inquiry system for religious personnel provides an authoritative and credible channel for the public to verify the identity of religious personnel, better safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, said the associations.

In recent years, local courts have sentenced over 100 fraud cases where the guise of religious names was used. Some people used the fake religious identity to recruit disciples, accept offerings, build temples and sell religious goods at high prices to amass wealth.

In another case, Wang Xingfu, a so-called qigong master, posing as a Living Buddha of Tibetan Buddhism, raped and molested several female believers and illegally amassed nearly 200 million yuan ($29 million). In 2021, Wang was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The Buddhist Association of China and the Taoist Association of China have issued measures for the accreditation of religious personnel in recent years. The information of legally accredited Buddhist and Taoist religious personnel can be found through the inquiry system.

The information inquiry systems for Islamic, Catholic and Christian religious personnel will also be published online soon.

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