“Hostile foreign forces and extremist forces are using religion to infiltrate and sabotage our country.” The answer: a more “scientific” and “Marxist” sinicization.
by Xia Qiao
Three-Self Church pastors urged to study new guidelines on sinicization of religion, signed by Wang Zuo’an, who is vice minister of the CPC Central Committee’s United Front Work Department and director of the State Religious Affairs Administration Bureau (which should be changed to “something else”, according to a 2018 announcement, but for now is still in place). The guidelines were published on March 21, 2022 in the “Study Times,” the organ of the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. The pastors have been clearly informed that this is not just a theoretical article, but that the guidelines must be faithfully studied and implemented.
The guidelines, as Wang writes, come directly from Xi Jinping’s speech at the December 2021 National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs, where XI “deeply answered questions on how to understand religion and deal with religious issues” and “provided fundamental guidelines for the Party’s religious work. a major strategic measure to actively guide religion in adapting to socialist society, and a major historical task for Party clerics to work.”
However, the guidelines say, Sinicization is a science, or more accurately part of Marxism as a science, and no one should believe that grasping its meaning and techniques is an easy task. Some do not sinicize religion “scientifically”, which has led to serious mistakes.
Sinicization, we read, “conforms to the laws of the survival and development of religions” established by Marx and Engels once and for all. The bourgeois study of religion “simply uses spiritual factors to explain religious phenomena”. On the contrary, Marxism regards religion as a “product” of material factors, “the product of the development of human society at a certain stage”.
It is undeniable that Marx and Engels pointed out that religions have played several “negative roles” in human history. This is especially true, the document says, when foreign religions colonize another country; and in China of the five permitted religions, only Taoism is truly Chinese while Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism were imported from abroad.
However, says the text, those who believe that Marx and Engels saw only negative aspects in religion are mistaken. Rather, they viewed religion as “a social phenomenon in which the positive and the negative coexist.” The positive in religion is the role it can play as a tool to accompany the progress of society from one stage to the next. In the stages where religious believers are still present, religions should guide them to play a progressive role rather than a reactionary one. In China, we are now in the socialist phase (not yet in the final communist phase) and the positive role that religions can play is to guide those who believe in them to adapt to a “socialist society” and embrace ” socialist values. Since in China most religions came from abroad, which made them problematic, this process in which religions reform themselves and become auxiliary forces of socialism has been scientifically formulated by Xi Jinping as “sinicization”. .
In fact, the document says, Chairman Mao has already “guided and promoted major reforms in religious circles in our country”, putting them “on the right track to adapt to socialist society”. Deng Xiaoping further “explored the correct way to deal with religious issues in light of the profound changes in our society and the new situation in the field of religion.” But, although passing through different stages, “actively guiding religion to adapt to socialist society is the fundamental goal of religious work and has achieved positive results.”
The scientific theory of sinicization, the document says, was created by Xi Jinping in 2015 and is continuously promoted, elaborated and implemented. Guided, the document wants to reiterate, by the theories of Marx and Engels, Xi told religions that the fact that they have already made efforts to adapt to a socialist society is not enough. “Adapting in the past does not mean adapting in the present, and adapting in the present does not necessarily mean adapting in the future.”
Not all religions, the document explains, are susceptible to Sinicization. Those who would “copy the foreign model of education, take foreign values as the norm, and even accept the orders and domination of foreign forces” are irreformable. Worse, “hostile foreign forces and extremist forces use religion to infiltrate and sabotage our country”, attempt to “steer our religions in a direction that deviates from the path of socialism”, create “chaos” (recently a Xi Jinping’s favorite word), and being part of a “political plot to deter China and overthrow China”. Religions that refuse to follow the “right political direction” must be resolutely suppressed and eradicated. Indeed, “only religions compatible with socialist and sinicized society can contribute to the stability of our society”.
The CCP will do what is necessary to “strengthen the ideological and political orientation of religious circles”, “improve the political consciousness of religious circles” and “guide the religious community to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system”. , unite closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and firmly follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” It is necessary “to encourage religious circles to seriously study Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, to study the history of the Party, the history of New China, the history of reform and opening up, and the history of socialist development in a targeted manner, and to conduct in-depth education on the theme of “love the party, love the country, love socialism”.
“It is necessary to bring religious circles to deeply and systematically study the theories, principles and policies of the Party’s religious work.” They should also understand that the non-Sinicized religion, that is, the religion which does not play the role of conveying socialism and the CCP’s guidelines to believers and instilling in them the love of the Party and socialism, makes part of “illegal religious activities” and “backward activities”. religion, which the CCP will not tolerate.