Chinese Communist Party Members Told Religion Is Not for Them

November 17, 2014 Updated: November 17, 2014

A newspaper that serves as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently published an article reinforcing the principle that CCP members must not have any religious beliefs and have to firmly uphold Marxism and materialism.

On Nov. 14, the Global Times published an opinion article written by Zhou Weiqun, director of the Subcommittee of Ethnic and Religious Affairs at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. 

The article says some scholars have promoted the idea that the CCP members should have freedom of religious belief, and they attributed the deteriorating moral values in society and the increasing corruption among communist officials to the lack of faith and belief. 

The article denies the claim, and says, “blaming atheism for moral decline is an old absurdity.” 

Zhou avoided the claim that official corruption was rampant and said, “Whether the general moral level of Chinese improved or declined since the reform and opening up needs to be specifically analyzed.” The reform and opening up refers to policies initiated by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978 that introduced elements of a market-based, rather than centrally-planned, economic system.

The article emphasizes that no religious belief for CCP members has been a “consistently upheld principle” since Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China. “It’s impossible to have another choice besides the dialectical materialist worldview.”

Zhou indicated that if the CCP members were allowed to have various beliefs in different gods, “[they] would become a loosely bound group that can be broken down due to individual gain.” Thus, the CCP members must have “a united worldview,” the article says.

Not only is membership in a religion banned for CCP members, western universal values are also criticized by the CCP. The Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee published a notification in July giving instructions on how to conduct moral education and enforce communist ideals and faith for the CCP cadres. The notification warned CCP members not to be disoriented by “the uproar about western Constitutional democracy, universal values, and Civil Society.” 

The number of new CCP members started to decrease last year. The Organization Department released data in June that the CCP members by the end of 2013 was around 86.7 million. Over 2.4 million people joined the CCP in 2013, 25.5 percent less than 2012, the sharp decrease standing in sharp contrast to annual increases in recent years. 

The number of members in the Communist Youth League, the communist organization for teenagers, decreased by 407,000 people in 2013, the data says. 

Being a member of the Chinese Communist Party is an essential steppingstone to becoming an official in Chinese society. However, public consensus in China is that the majority of Chinese joining the CCP do so not because they have faith in communism, but seek a better career and more benefits, motives that often lead to corruption. 

“Who would join the Party nowadays if not for becoming an official, making a fortune, embezzling money, and having mistresses?” Chinese net user “Steamed bread dustpan” remarked on the microblog platform Sina Weibo.