The Chinese Constitution and Religious Freedom
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China is a remarkable document. It guarantees to the Chinese people many rights, among them,
All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people
All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal
All citizens of the People’s Republic of China are equal before the law.
The State respects and preserves human rights
and most interestingly,
Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.
No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.
Here’s how that grand theory works in practice:
The US-based ICT said paramilitary police raided the monastery in Aba, in the Sichuan province, on Thursday night and detained more than 300 monks.
As the monks were being driven away, the police beat a group of people who had been standing vigil outside Kirti, resulting in the deaths of two Tibetans aged in their sixties, ICT said, citing exile groups in contact with people in the area.
Again, at an Easter service, China seizes Christians in Easter raid.
Up to 500 members of the Protestant house church movement, unregistered assemblies of worshippers that the government bans to prevent the rise of opposition, have been detained in recent weeks. Yesterday’s arrests were a continuation of the authorities’ increase in repression of dissenters to stop any chance of a revolution such as those seen in North Africa and the Middle-East.
The Constitution cleverly includes the “fine print”:
The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state.
If the government says it “disrupts public order”, they’ll cart you away. Whether you’re ever seen again is up to them.
Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.
Especially from Rome, from Tibet, or from the Church of England.
No constitution is worth the paper it’s written on – not even ours – unless the government behind it works to preserve the principles in it.