Source: Asia Times
The Chinese Communist Party is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1921. For most of those decades, the party sought to restrict or obliterate traditional religious practices, which it considered part of China’s “feudal” past.
But since the late 1970s, the party has slowly permitted a multifaceted and far-reaching revival of religion. More recently, President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has endorsed continued party tolerance for religion as filling a moral void that has developed amid China’s fast-paced economic growth.
This support does come with caveats and restrictions, however, including the demand that religious leaders support the Communist Party.
All temples and churches were shut down or destroyed. Any form of religious activity was prohibited, even as there was forceful promotion of the cult of Mao (Zedong), which assumed the role of an officially sanctioned religion.
As part of major reforms and a loosening of social controls, initiated in the late 1970s, the party has slowly accepted a range of behaviors and traditions that fulfill religious needs or provide spiritual outlets. Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism – the five officially recognized religions – have staged comebacks, albeit with varying success.
There are increasing numbers of local temples, associations, pilgrimages and festivals, and growing numbers of Buddhist, Christian and Taoist clergy. Many religious sites are open for private worship and communal service and frequented by people from all walks of life.
Local governments are often keen to restore and promote religious establishments, largely to stimulate tourism and local economic development.