Under a Communist Regime, Priests and Monks in China Hold Religious Events Ahead of the CCP’s Centenary

April 9, 2021 Updated: April 9, 2021

This year marks the centenary of China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the religious groups in the country held various activities to observe the upcoming occasion.

During the Qingming Festival (Tomb-Sweeping Festival or China’s Memorial Day) on April 4, Buddhist and Taoist temples in many provinces sent their monks to visit the tombstones and gravesites of communist martyrs and to pledge allegiance to the Party. The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association held a lecture on the CCP’s history.

According to the Chinese-language website Modern Buddhist, on April 5, about 100 teachers and monks from Hanshan College of Jiangsu Buddhist University went to the Suzhou Martyrs Cemetery to pay homage to the CCP’s martyrs—those who sacrificed their lives in the early years of the revolution led by the CCP. They performed religious rituals such as chanting Buddhist scriptures, offering flower baskets and incenses, and sang the CCP’s national anthem. Hanshan College pledged to guide the teachers and students to “further strengthen the leadership of the Party,” to “carry on the will of the martyrs,” and to “adhere to the direction of the sinicization of Buddhism,” Modern Buddhist reported.

On March 25, the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is not recognized by the Vatican, held a lecture on the history of the CCP.

Chinese worshippers attend a Holy Communion during Christmas Mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on December 24, 2009. About 15 million Protestants and five million Catholics worship at official churches, according to China's official data. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese worshippers attend a holy communion during Christmas Mass at a Catholic church in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2009. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

Recently, the CCP has further tightened control on religions in the mainland, making them part of the ideological state apparatus to serve the communist regime’s agenda.

China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs officially issued the “Administrative Measures for Religious Personnel” on Jan. 18 this year, which will be formally implemented on May 1. The document stipulates that religious staff should support the leadership of the CCP and the socialist system, and the religious personnel will be assessed by this criteria as the basis for their rewards and punishments.

Last November, Beijing convened the 14th meeting of the National Joint Conference of Religious Organizations. The heads of the five major religious groups in China—Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity—pledged to “unify their thoughts and actions to implement the decisions made by the CCP’s Party Central Committee” and to engage in the “sinicization of religion,” according to a report by state-run media Xinhua.

In 2019, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s portraits were hung and replaced religious symbols in various churches, according to Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China.

Cai Xia, a former professor at Beijing’s Central Party School and a vocal critic of the CCP, wrote on Twitter: “The sinicization of religion proposed by Xi Jinping is the political abduction of religious leaders and their followers by the CCP! The sinicization of religion is a tyranny of the state. It’s supported by state power, and openly promotes the politicization of religion, which is the unification of state and religion. Whether it is Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity or Islam, its clerical staff have in fact become the CCP’s alternative propaganda department staff, performing the CCP’s brainwashing mission, combined with maintaining stability for the regime and controlling the thoughts of believers and followers.”

After the CCP was founded in 1921, it vigorously promoted atheism. Not only did it wantonly destroy Chinese traditional culture, it also infiltrated traditional Chinese religions. The CCP has politicized religion—there are Party secretaries in the five major religious groups, and they are all operated under the Religious Affairs Bureau. Both the Chinese Communist Buddhist Association (established in 1952) and the Chinese Communist Taoist Association (established in 1957) wrote in their mission statements that they are “under the leadership of the people’s government,” which is in fact, under the leadership of the atheist Communist Party.

Professor Sen Nieh of the Catholic University of America told The Chinese-language Epoch Times that the CCP is the root cause of the chaotic situation in the religious circles in mainland China. The CCP forces religious believers to obey the Party first, and the CCP is a powerful evil cult, he said.

Li Tianxiao, a U.S.-based China affairs commentator, told the publication that religious worship and the belief in God should have nothing to do with politics. He said the current situation in China reveals that the CCP has always regarded religion as a political tool since the Party was founded.