Home / The ABC of Living in China / Practicing Religion / Things you should know Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Judicial and administrative guarantees and supervision of the freedom of religious belief
Adjust font size:

With respect to judicial guarantee, China stipulates clearly the penalties for the infringement of citizens' right to freedom of religious belief. For instance, Article 251 of the Criminal Law states: "State personnel who unlawfully deprive citizens of their freedom of religious belief and infringe upon the customs and habits of minority ethnic groups, when the circumstances are serious, are to be sentenced to not more than two years of fixed-term imprisonment or criminal detention." In the Decisions on the Standards for Filing Directly Received Cases of Infringement Upon Citizens' Democratic and Personal Rights and Those of Malfeasance, it is stipulated that a people's procuratorate shall place on file a case in which a State functionary illegally deprives anyone of his or her legitimate freedom of religious belief-such as by interfering in normal religious activities, forcing a believer to give up his/her membership of a religion or compelling a citizen to profess a certain religion or adherence to a certain religious sect-and in which the offense is of an abominable nature and has brought about serious consequences and undesirable effects. A people's procuratorate shall also put on record cases of illegally closing or destroying lawful religious sites and other religious facilities. In recent years the Chinese judiciary, in accordance with the law, has tried several cases of infringing upon relevant laws of the State and seriously hurting the religious feelings of certain believers, and has meted out punishments to persons responsible for the offenses.

With respect to administrative guarantee, governments at different levels have set up religious affairs departments to administer and supervise the implementation of the laws and statutes pertaining to religion and to put the policy ensuring the freedom of religious belief into effect. These departments shall not interfere in the internal affairs of religious organizations and sites.

In China religious organizations and sites for religious activities must register with the government in accordance with the law, which is the case in some other countries as well. Applications for such registration must meet the following basic requirements: a permanent site and name; regular attendance; a management organization composed of adherents to the relevant religion; clerical personnel for officiating religious activities or personnel with qualifications stipulated in regulations of various religions; management regulations and lawful income. Government departments shall defer the registration or only approve temporary registration of religious sites which cannot completely satisfy these basic requirements or have prominent management problems. Government departments shall not permit the registration of, for example, sites for religious activities which illegally occupy land or violate the statutes of city planning, which have been set up without authorization or which promote superstitious activities, such as exorcising evil spirits under the pretext of religious activities. Once a site for religious activities is registered according to law it has legal status and its lawful rights and interests shall be protected. If its rights and interests are infringed upon the organization in charge of the site is entitled to seek administrative and legal protection by appealing to the relevant government organ or taking the case to a people's court. There is no registration requirement for, to quote from Chinese Christians, "house services," which are mainly attended by relatives and friends for religious activities such as praying and Bible reading.

People's congresses at different levels, which are organs through which the people exercise their power, and the Chinese people's political consultative conferences at different levels, which are playing an important role in the political and social life of the State, shall supervise the implementation of the policy and laws relating to the freedom of religious belief. There are about 17,000 religious personages who are deputies to people's congresses or members of political consultative conferences at different levels. On behalf of religious circles they participate in the discussions of important State and social affairs at the people's congresses and political consultative conferences, and offer comments, suggestions and criticisms, or submit proposals and motions relating to the government's work on religion. During the three years from 1993 to 1996 alone the Religious Affairs Bureau of the State Council heard and responded to more than 50 motions proposed by deputies to the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

(China.org.cn June 29, 2009)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>