- China has ordered crackdown on large outdoor religious statues
- The Asian country has also put running of religious affairs directly under the officially atheistic Communist Party
- Churches are reportedly being demolished while thousands of Muslims are being subjected to anti-Islamic indoctrination in re-education camps
China's ruling Communist Party has reportedly ordered local governments to better regulate the construction of large outdoor religious statues amid increasing restrictions on religious expressions of all kinds.
The directive from the United Front Work Department viewed on its website on Saturday, May 26, appears targeted mainly at followers of Buddhism and Taoism, two of China's five officially recognized religions, New York Times reports.
"The meeting required all localities to take up the regulation of large outdoor religious statues as their top priority in preventing the further commercialization of Buddhism and Taoism," the directive said.
NAIJ.com notes that thousands of Buddhist and Taoist temples and shrines, along with mosques and churches, were damaged or destroyed under communism, especially during the violent 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
Although many have been restored and reopened since then, new regulations and a bureaucratic overhaul earlier this year have put the day-to-day running of religious affairs directly under the officially atheistic party.
There has reportedly been a renewed campaign promoting atheism and loyalty to the party, along with a push to study the works of one of communism's founding fathers, Karl Marx, who famously wrote that religion "is the opium of the people."
The anti-religion drive overlaps with campaigns to promote patriotism and party loyalty, oppose separatism among ethnic minorities and fight Western liberal values.
It has also complicated efforts toward reconciliation with the Vatican and led to thousands of Muslims being subjected to anti-Islamic indoctrination in re-education camps, churches being demolished and students and monks removed from a famed Tibetan Buddhist seminary.
NAIJ.com previously reported that Chinese authorities in Central Henan province allegedly issued a warning forbidding any Christian gatherings in the area and placing Christians under house arrest.
Chinese officials were also reportedly tearing down couplet door decorations that use Christian language.
According to an anonymous source in Shangqiu, Henan, Christians in the province have been placed under house arrest without charge, with police officers watching their residence.
The Christians are also required to report where they are going every time they wish to leave the house.
Do churches need armed security guards? - on NAIJ.com TV