China

China 'Legally Bans' a Protestant Church Over Surveillance

The church denied the government's request to install CCTVs.

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|||THOMAS PETER/REUTERS/Newscom
THOMAS PETER/REUTERS/Newscom

The Chinese government's religious crackdown now includes a ban on a large Protestant church in Beijing.

The Zion Church hosted hundreds of worshippers for years, and until April it enjoyed "relative freedoms," according to Reuters. But after the church rejected the authorities' request to install closed-circuit television cameras in its building, the government announced that it was "legally banned," officially for operating without officially registering its events. Since then, its "illegal promotional material" has been confiscated.

It isn't alone. In a joint statement released in July, more than 30 churches complained of "unceasing interference" from Chinese regulators. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that officials in the country are "destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith." There are also reports of official discrimination against Muslims: Human Rights Watch recently accused the Chinese government of carrying out arbitrary detention, torture, surveillance, and indoctrination of the Turkic Muslim population in the northwestern part of the country.

The Chinese Constitution promises religious liberties to all citizens in Chapter II, Article 36:

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 to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. 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. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

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  1. Well, so long as it’s legal there can’t really be much to object to.

    1. But if the price of my iPhone goes up $100 there will be hell to pay!

      1. Don’t worry, they will never ban the Church Of The iPhone Makers. The congregation is too big.

  2. “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. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.”

    There’s an exception big enough to drive a truck through.

    1. Kind of like the last article of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

      1. Well, when the human rights council has some of the biggest violators of human rights on it than it’s really no surprise that their declarations might have some caveats.

    2. It’s actually much worse than that. Courts in China do not have the power of judicial review, so the government can basically pass even outrageously unconstitutional laws, and there are absolutely zero venues for individuals to seek redress. Plus, judges in China are actually employees of the Communist Party, guaranteeing that in any case where the judgment of the Party itself might be put into question, the judge is going to have a conflict of interest, and if he or she wants to stay gainfully employed, and not one day end up on the other side of the dock, there’s only one way to rule – in the Party’s favor. Trials are usually more for show than anything else. As a colleague of mine put it, in China, if you’re put on trial, your guilt is basically taken for granted; why else would you have been arrested unless you were guilty? The only thing they offer defendants is an opportunity to plea guilty and express remorse; then, the judge might give you a lighter sentence.

      In short, Chinese law is a shit show of epic proportions. And it’s not because the Chinese Constitution has weasel words. They could have a constitution written by Randy Barnett, and it wouldn’t matter, because it’s not enforceable, and the government often doesn’t even follow its own laws.

      1. Of course, even this assumes that a defendant is actually brought before a judge in the first place. Since the rise of Xi, the government has increasingly just “disappeared” people it finds inconvenient. Sometimes that means killing them, like they used to do in Argentina, but more often it means sending them to “black jails,” where they can be held for years while the government decides what to do with them. The million or so Uyghurs currently held in concentration camps in Xinjiang were never arrested or charged with any crime, so they are not officially in even this tissue paper-thin excuse for a justice system.

  3. “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”

    thats the line that allows them to be O’rwelian and shut opposing views down. Religion teaches things other than what the government wants people to learn. Don’t worry folks this is just like in America where speech is violence so soon our government will have a legal basis to shut our churchs down as well. The funny thing is that smart people like Putin and the catholic church are using religion to keep people under control as well. Nothing like poeple who obey their church to further control over their neighbor.

  4. Communist Constitutions meet the definition of paper best used to wipe your ass.

    Stalin’s USSR Constitution

    ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.

    ARTICLE 125. In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by law:

    freedom of speech;
    freedom of the press;
    freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings;
    reedom of street processions and demonstrations.
    These civil rights are ensured by placing at the disposal of the working people and their organizations printing presses, stocks of paper, public buildings, the streets, communications facilities and other material requisites for the exercise of these rights.

    1. “Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.”

      Legal language in commie constitutions is window-dressing, but note the “freedom of worship” language – it contrasts with a broader freedom of antireligious propaganda, suggesting that the antireligious, but not the religious, have the right to evangelize in the general public.

      The Obama administration liked to talk a lot about freedom of worship, too. But they only defended religious *practice* when it was a question of forcing private companies to accommodate religious employees. They didn’t themselves wish to accommodate anyone’s religious practice.

      1. When religious practices that conservatives dislike — involving abortion, peyote, treatment of gays, marijuana, contraception, standing for the anthem, immigrants, references to “God” on currency, and the like — are to be accommodated, will those who have been pressing for aggressive expansion of “religious liberty” demonstrate principle and consistency?

        1. “peyote”

          You *are* aware, aren’t you, of the origins of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act? The law was prompted by a case in the US Supreme Court about peyote being used as a sacrament in a Native American religion.

          Not only that, but during the debate in the Senate, *Democratic* Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada moved to *exclude* prisoners from the benefits of the statute. 21 Republicans voted Nay, and with the addition of Democratic Nay votes the amendment was defeated and prisoners were afforded religious conscience rights.

          In addition to Reid, Democrats voting to strip prisoners of their rights included Baucus of Montana and Kerrey of Nebraska, and Daschle of South Dakota.

          1. Oh, and on the vote for final passage, it passed the Senate 97-3.

          2. Hahaha. Grand response.

        2. Hey, Rev., if you’re sincerely curious about how consistent conservatives are, you should go check out the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which supports the free exercise of religion by everyone from Amish to Zoroastrians.

          Of course, a lot of those things (such as standing for the anthem and putting God on the currency) you were listing aren’t religious practices, but practices that some people object to, almost exclusively for non-religious grounds. (If some group *did* have religious objections to standing for the National Anthem, it’s pretty clear that the Barnette precedent would protect them.)

  5. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief.

    That’s even narrower than the “freedom of worship” that, if progs get their way, would replace freedom of religion in this country.

    1. You have the right to believe whatever you want, but you can’t tell anyone about it.

  6. As long as the Communists in China get what they want from America, all will be fine.

    They are just building man-made islands in the South China Sea for condos.

  7. Dianne Feinstein is having a jealous fit.

  8. China’s giving Kirkland and Tony some really great ideas.

    1. And great pay.

  9. Haha, no surprise there. Haha. At least the government didn’t shoot them this time? Ha.

    And this is who we choose to do business with as a nation.

    1. Seriously dumb. The CCP is masters at exploiting business relationships to extract political concessions by threatening or promising market access to their billion plus citizens. Xi keeps playing everyone on marionette strings like fools.

  10. Justin Trudeau, then running for the leadership of his party in 2013, was given a lob-ball question from a supporter at a “Ladies Night” meet-and-greet in Toronto: “Which nation, besides Canada, which nation’s administration do you most admire, and why?”

    The future prime minister’s odd answer: “You know, there’s a level of admiration I actually have for China ?.”

    Never gets old.

  11. “Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.”

    No, only domestic domination by domestic Government Almighty… Just like in the USA…

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