Chinese Government Backs Religious Freedom– Sort Of!

Th Chinese Communist government has always struggled with issues of religious freedom given that a basic tenet of communism was opposition to the institution of religion. President Hu Jintao reaffirmed his government’s support for the principle of religious freedom, but buried in his words were some disturbing comments. “We shall carry out the Party’s policy,” he said, “of free religion…The Party shall reach out to religious believes and held them through their problems.” He urged those who believe in religion to be patriotic citizens and support the idea of a unified nation .

The essence of religious freedom is that government does not tell people what to believe nor does government provide assistance to help people “through their problems.” All governments hope citizens are patriotic, but the individual decides what constitutes being patriotic, not the government. The Chinese Communist government continues exerting a strong role in leadership of its nation’s Catholic hierarchy and does not accept the supremacy of the Pope in making religious decisions for members of his faith. Current religious policies of the Chinese government are not perfect, but they certainly are an improvement in what earlier Communist leaders regarded as the meaning of religious freedom.