Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dangerous Ideas Will Not Be Tolerated

5/22/16 New York Times:
On a four-day journey through this lush swath of China’s Zhejiang Province, I spoke with residents who described in new detail the breathtaking scale of an effort to remove Christianity’s most potent symbol from public view. Over the past two years, officials and residents said, the authorities have torn down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches, sometimes after violent clashes with worshipers trying to stop them.
“It’s been very difficult to deal with,” said one church elder in Shuitou, who like others asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation by the authorities. “We can only get on our knees and pray.”
The campaign has been limited to Zhejiang Province, home to one of China’s largest and most vibrant Christian populations. But people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.
In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.
Now you know why progressives are so intent on marginalizing Christianity here.

1 comment:

Rich Rostrom said...

I don't see this as an ideological campaign. Tearing the crosses off steeples is a symbolic act.

The Chinese government is afraid of anything which is an alternative to state authority. They have persecuted Falun Gong ferociously, for the same reason. But they patronize state-controlled churches.

Western anticlericalism is a rather different. It is rooted in the liberal enmity toward established churches that were props of the authoritarian old order. Communists shared this enmity (one reason why liberals have so often been useful idiots); in fact, explicit atheism was baked into Communist doctrine. And the totalitarian element in Communism attacked anything outside the state, which churches always were, even when everything else was absorbed.

For liberals, there was also opposition by many religious groups to social reform, personal liberty, and freedom of expression (which didn't matter to Communists). Modern liberals imagine they are still fighting the Inquisition and Comstockery. Most churches in the West have been co-opted by the welfare state; they aren't the major foci of resistance, given the vast array of other non-state institutions.

As to China: the regime has largely abandoned Communist ideas in practice; its fear is purely authoritarian paranoia.