Vol. 15, No. 4
国家宗教事务局-- Decree of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China No. 426
Becoming familiar with China’s regulations on religious affairs can provide an official reference point for informed discussion on this issue.
A Book Review
Religious Freedom in China: Policy, Administration, and Regulation; A Research Handbook by Kim-kwong Chan and Eric R. Carlson
Reviewed by Brent Fulton
This volume provides reliable information about religious policy and its implementation in China.
Peoples of China
ChinaSource recently asked six leaders of house churches, in various parts of the country, about the current environment that affects their practice of religion in their location. Their responses, detailing the environment as well as their attitudes towards the local authorities and the issue of registration, are expressed in this article.
View From the Wall
A ChinaSource interview conducted by Kay Danielson
In a recent interview, a pastor of a church, located in a rural district of a northern city in China, speaks about the congregation, its steady growth, its relationship with government officials, the challenges it faces and his responsibilities.
Huang Jianbo looks at China's basic understanding of religion which affects the formulation and execution of its religious policies. To date, the state has believed that religion is a problem although it has never explicitly stated what kind of problem. The author identifies three possible ways in which the government might perceive religion to be a problem. He then offers three suggestions for altering the thinking and implementing of policies. He concludes by affirming religious policies in China have improved greatly over the past thirty years.
The author helps us to understand the workings of the religious affairs bureaucracy first by following the story of an aspiring pastor, then by viewing them historically. The Chinese Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement Association, China Christian Council, Religious Affairs Bureau and United Front Work Department are all discussed along with how they interact, lines of authority and the role of guanxi.
As this article looks at the three key government documents that address religion in China, it focuses on the use of the word "normal." It looks at the definition of normal, the restrictions the government regulations actually place and the thinking that undergirds the regulations. The principals underlying them are discussed as well as the distinction between belief and practice.
The guest editor's point of view