It has recently come to light that the Chinese government has banned children belonging to the Muslim community to attend any and all religious events during the winter break. The ban has been heavily enforced in a county in western China that is predominantly populated by Muslims. Laid out by the education bureau of China, this ban on religion is being enforced by the authorities so that Islam and other religions may be suppressed in the region.
The schools that belong to Linxia County, which is in the Gansu province of China, are suffering under this ban. This county is home to the Muslim Hui ethnic minority of China. Their members are no longer allowed to enter any religious buildings, according to the instructions posted online by the Linxia Education Bureau.
Irreligion: Not Just Muslims
This hasn’t been something that only Muslims in China are going through, Christians have been facing similar hurdles in a country that is now striving to rid itself of religion altogether. In 2015, many religious buildings in China belonging to Christians were forcibly demolished under orders of the Chinese government.
China, an Atheist State?
China has turned a communist and atheist eye towards every aspect of its nation. Religions such as Islam and Christianity no longer hold the importance in the nation that they once did. This new policy originates from President Xi Jinping who declared that China would be an unapologetically communist and atheist country in his speech at the Communist Party conference which is held every 5 years.
The History of Religion in China
While China has kept a peaceful front with religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, and Catholicism, it has recently turned its back on most of them even though it officially recognizes them as religions. China officially recognizes Catholicism, but it refuses to accept the Pope’s authority over more than 12 million Catholics that live in the country. China has not been visited by a Pope ever since the Communist state broke all its ties with the Vatican in 1951. Pope Francis stated that he wishes to visit China, but President Xi’s remarks may ensure that this visit never ends up happening.
This is not the first time that a country has cracked down on religion. During the Middle Ages, several Christian countries of Europe banded together to eradicate Islam altogether. Time and again, people have feared that a religion that wasn’t their own would threaten to overpower them, which in this case is atheism. What China wants is for the country to become a completely atheist state, free from all religion.
Religion: Power in Numbers
The fact that the government wants to eradicate religion from the country has only fueled the believers in China regardless of what religion they are from. Take the example of the Christians in China. If you were to sit on a train and take a ride across China’s countryside, you would see more temples rise up to take the place of the ones being torn down by the government.
Christians are on an all-time rise in China. Mr. Yang Fenggang who teaches at Purdue University in Indiana claims that since the year 1980, the Christian population in China has risen by an estimate of 10 percent every year. He claims that if this continues, there will be at least 250 million Christians in China by the year 2030. If this happens, China will hold the largest population of Christians in the world. The same rule applies to the Muslims, Catholics and Buddhists residing in China currently.
Freedom of Religion: Climbing Every Obstacle
Governments may come and go but one thing remains a constant, and that is the people who live in a country. They see all kinds of tides and patiently ride through them without ever losing hope or faith for a better tomorrow. Regardless of what President Xi Jinping wants, the believers must stand together and not let anything stand in the way of taking away their freedom to practice whichever religion they believe in.