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During November 2019, the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — which oversees the ethnic and religious matters in China — held a meeting during which the order was given to evaluate existing religious texts. The idea is to rewrite those books and texts to “reflect socialist values” and to exclude any content that goes against the beliefs of the Communist Party.
The Bible and the Quran were not specifically mentioned but, amid crackdown on the country’s religious groups, the idea of “comprehensive evaluation of the existing religious classics aiming at contents which do not conform to the progress of the times” can lead to a conclusion that those religious texts are amongst targets.
The abovementioned meeting was attended by a group of 16 experts, believers and representatives of different religions from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and it was supervised by Wung Yang, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
According to The Daily Mail, Mr. Wang stressed that religious authorities must follow President Xi's instructions and interpret the ideologies of different religions in accordance with 'the core values of Socialism' and 'the requirements of the era.’ He urged the officials to build 'a religious system with Chinese characteristics.' The officials agreed with Mr. Wang's directives, adding that the mission 'is the choice of history.' They also claimed that by 'reevaluating' religious books, they would prevent 'extreme thoughts' and 'heretical ideas' from eroding the country.
Unfortunately the idea behind the redaction of religious texts is not about creating more tolerant or open-minded texts that will correspond to modern era and evade religious discrimination and intolerance. This is just another step in China’s policy towards religious groups which are especially strict against Muslim Uighur minority in Western China. UN experts and activists have claimed that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centers in the region where they are forced to eat pork and speak Mandarin, as Daily Mail reports.
The People’s Republic of China officially espouses state atheism, which means that atheism is incorporated into the country’s political regime. The measures against the Muslims and the new idea of rewriting religious texts are not what atheism is about. Atheism is a contrast to theism but it is not about forcing someone into atheism by limitation of freedom to practice faith.