Beijing [China], April 25 (ANI): Despite growing pressure on China over its human rights record, the Chinese government is set to implement a new decree next month that will require all religious leaders to "follow the lead of and support" the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to the US-based broadcaster Voice of America (VOA), the official order, "Measures on the Management of Religious Professionals" bars the preaching and teaching by religious professionals that endangers China's national security, promote extremism or divide the country.
The decree also requires religious practitioners to resist the "infiltration of foreign forces" through religion or else they will be subjected to administrative sanctions and criminal charges.
"This decree goes against our religious beliefs and the separation of politics and religion," said Xu Yonghai, an elder at the Divine Love Fellowship of the Beijing House Church.
"There will be a further narrowing of religious freedom and more severe crackdowns on believers."
The decree promotes the implementation of the policy that "persists in our nation's direction toward the Sinicization of religion," Xu added.
According to VOA's report, this latest order coincides with a push by the government-controlled national religious associations of Protestantism, Catholicism, Taoism, Buddhism and Islam to require all believers to study topics such as the histories of the CCP, the People's Republic of China and socialism.
Earlier this month, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCIRF) in its latest report said that the Chinese government has intensified its "sinicization of religion" policy, particularly targeting religions perceived to have foreign connections, such as Christianity, Islam, and Tibetan Buddhism.
The authorities also continued their unprecedented use of advanced surveillance technologies to monitor and track religious minorities, and the 'Measures on Managing Religious Groups' became effective in February, further constricting the space in which religious groups can operate. (ANI)