China and atheism

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China has the largest atheist population in the world.[1]

China has the world's largest atheist population.[2][3]

East Asia contains about 25 percent of the world’s population. China’s population represents 20 percent of the people on earth.[4]

Razib Khan points out in Discover Magazine, "most secular nations in the world are those of East Asia, in particular what are often termed “Confucian societies.” It is likely therefore that the majority of the world’s atheists are actually East Asian."[5] See: Asian atheism and Global atheism

On November 1, 2014, an article in The Economist entitled Cracks in the atheist edifice declared:

Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism...

Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world. Mr. Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire.[6]

The Telegraph reported on December 19, 2012:

The notice, apparently issued in May 2011 by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, suggests ongoing misgivings among senior leaders that religion, and in particular Christianity, poses a direct challenge to the ruling party.

Bob Fu, the founder of ChinaAid, the group which obtained and published the document, said the directive was proof China's central government was "directing a national crackdown against religious freedom especially targeting Christianity [in universities]".

Mr Fu claimed the document also indicated "panic" among Chinese intellectuals about the "rapid" growth of [China's] underground Christian population".

An official from the propaganda department of the State Council said they were unable to immediately comment on whether the document was genuine. But posts on the websites of several Chinese universities appear to confirm the leaked document's existence....

Yet despite government controls, the number of Christians in China has rocketed since the 1980s with many worshipping in illegal "house churches" which are subject to sporadic crackdowns. Some estimates suggest there are now as many as 130 million practicing Christians in China.[7]

Chinese communism and militant atheism

See also: Atheism and communism and Militant atheism

During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, it was required for every Chinese citizen to own, read, and carry at all times Quotations from Chairman Mao, also known as "the little red book".

The little red book advocated communism and atheism and it is estimated that about 5 billion copies were printed during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.[8]

Atheism is a core tenet of militant communist ideology (see: Atheism and communism). In 1955, Chinese communist leader Zhou Enlai declared, "We Communists are atheists".[9]

In 2016, the International Business Times reported:

A senior Chinese advisor on religious affairs has said the country should promote atheism throughout society, in remarks that appear to reflect a deepening campaign to reinforce traditional Marxist values in China — and could add to concern about official attitudes among believers in the country’s five officially recognized religions.[10]

In 2014, the New American website indicated:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) is letting its members know that the party’s official adherence to militant atheism has not changed; Party members are not allowed to be Christians, or to hold any other religious beliefs. That is the clear message sent by a top Party official in an editorial published on November 14 in the Global Times, the international version of People’s Daily, the official newspaper and mouthpiece of the CPC.[11]

There is growing persecution of Christians by the Chinese government.[12] Historically persecution has often been an ineffective means to stop the growth of Christianity in a region.[13] Persecution and exponential Christian growth have frequently coincided. On the other hand, persecution often coincides with diminishing Christianity.[14]

China, state atheism and persecution

See also: Communism and religious persecution and Growth of Christianity in China

In 1999, the publication Christian Century reported that "China has persecuted religious believers by means of harassment, prolonged detention, and incarceration in prison or 'reform-through-labor' camps and police closure of places of worship." In 2003, owners of Bibles in China were sent to prison camps and 125 Chinese churches were closed.[15] China continues to practice religious oppression today.[16]

The efforts of China's atheist leaders in promoting atheism, however, is increasingly losing its effectiveness and the number of Christians in China is rapidly growing (see: Growth of Christianity in China). China's state sponsored atheism and atheistic indoctrination has been a failure and a 2007 religious survey in China indicated that only 15% of Chinese identified themselves as atheists.[17]

Atheistic, Chinese communism and torture

See also: Atheistic communism and torture

The Chinese communist regime has used beatings, harassment and torture to suppress religion in China and continues to use these practices.[18][19]

China, religious persecution and involuntary organ harvesting

See also: China and involuntary organ harvesting

Several researchers — for example, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, former Canadian parliamentarian David Kilgour, and the investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann estimate that tens of thousands of Falun Gong prisoners in communist China have been killed to supply a financially lucrative trade in human organs and cadavers, and that these human rights abuses may be ongoing concern.[20]

People's Republic of China and the Cultural Revolution

A People's Republic of China propaganda poster stating "Destroy the Old World & Forge the New World," with a worker smashing a crucifix, a Buddha murti, and a classical Chinese sacred text; 1967.

The People's Republic of China is officially an atheist state,[21] as atheism is endorsed and promoted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.[22] When the People's Republic of China was established, militant atheist functionaries compelled the Party to impose control on and limit religious suppliers.[23] As a result, foreign missionaries were expelled from the nation.[23] Furthermore, major religions including Buddhism, Daoism, Islam and Christianity were co-opted into national associations, while minor sects were labelled as reactionary organisations and were therefore banned.[23] "Up to 1 October 1949, when Mao Tse-tung officially proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC)," the communists, acting as the de facto government of the regions they controlled, killed to 3,500,000 individuals.[24]

However, during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a new form of militant atheism made great efforts to eradicate religion completely.[25] Under this militant atheism espoused by Mao Zedong, houses of worship were shut down; Buddhist pagodas, Daoist temples, Christian churches, and Muslim mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; and sacred texts were burnt.[25] Moreover, it was a criminal offence to even possess a religious artifact or sacred text. However, following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, many former policies towards religious freedom returned although they are limited and tenuous, as religion is closely regulated by the government.[26]

According to philosopher Julia Ching, the Falun Gong religion was seen by Jiang Zemin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, as an ideological threat to militant atheism and historical materialism.[27] Nevertheless, Fengang Yang, a professor at Purdue University, writes that the "predominant view on religion has moved away from militant atheism to a more scientific, objective and consequently more balanced approach to religion."[28]

Atheistic Chinese communism and mass deaths

See also: Atheism and mass murder and Mao Zedong

According to the Washington Post (7/14/94):

While most scholars are reluctant to estimate a total number of "unnatural deaths" in China under Mao, evidence shows he was in some way responsible for at least 40 million deaths and perhaps 80 million or more. This includes deaths he was directly responsible for and deaths resulting from disastrous policies he refused to change.

One government document that has been internally circulated and seen by a former Communist Party official now at Princeton University says that 80 million died unnatural deaths – most of them in the famine following the Great Leap Forward. This figure comes from the Tigaisuo, or the System Reform Institute, which was led by Zhao Ziyang, the deposed Communist Party chief, in the 1980s to study how to reform Chinese society.

In comparison, Hitler is blamed for 12 million concentration camp deaths and at least 30 million other deaths associated with World War II, while Stalin is believed responsible for between 30 million and 40 million “unnatural deaths,” including millions from a famine he created.

The article also added:

Sources of new information on the famine indicate it was more widespread than long believed and could have been avoided.

— An article appearing last year in the Shanghai University journal Society stated that at least 40 million died from 1959 to 1961. Previous estimates have ranged from 10 million to 30 million. The article noted a mistake in government population statistics for 1960 that led to an underestimation of "unnatural deaths." Authorities later banned this issue of the journal and withdrew it from circulation.

— In another study, National Defense University professor Cong Jin estimated that 40 million died between 1959 and 1961.

— Chen Yizi of Princeton University’s Center for Modern China did research for years in China, first as a student and then as a government official, and determined that 43 million had died in the famine, a figure recently matched by a report from a think tank in Shanghai. According to Chen, this made the total number of Chinese who died as a result of Mao’s policies 80 million.[29]

This confirms the accuracy of democide analyst R.J. Rummel's research on China. Taking every available estimate of Chinese democide by category and time period; averaging them out and adding them together; repeating the process several times; doing the same with other Communist states and comparing the results; Rummel estimated 77,000,000 Chinese were killed by Mao Tse-Tung, assuming 38 million famine-dead from 1959-61.[30] Mao was responsible for more deaths than Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Ceausescu, and Tito combined. Despite this massive body count, Mao remains an icon for certain segments of the far-left. For example, his likeness and books are often seen at Occupy Wall Street events.

China held the largest secular event in history

See also: Atheist conferences

Although the 2012 Reason Rally was billed as the largest secular event in world history, strictly speaking that is not accurate.[31]

Communist countries have embraced state atheism. And Marxist-Leninism along with Maoism explicitly adhered to the atheist worldview and communist countries have engaged in militant atheism and religious persecution (see: Atheism and communism).[32] China still engages in religious persecution. Communist countries had large/massive rallies. For example, at Tiananmen Square during the Cultural Revolution, the atheist Mao Zedong greeted 1,500 Red Guards and waved to 800,000 Red Guards and spectators below. [33]

Historically, the atheist population has tended to lean leftward in their politics (See: Atheism and politics and Secular left). According to the University of Cambridge, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[34]

See also

References

  1. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  2. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
  3. The Growth of Christianity in East Asia
  4. Most atheists are not white & other non-fairy tales, Discover magazine
  5. Cracks in the atheist edifice, The Economist, November 1, 2014
  6. Chinese universities urged to fight back against foreign religion, The Telegraph, 2012
  7. Chairman Mao may not be the author of his 'Little Red Book', The Independent, 2011
  8. Noebel, David, The Battle for Truth, Harvest House, 2001.
  9. Senior Chinese Religious Advisor Calls For Promotion Of Atheism In Society, International Business Times
  10. China’s Communist Party Reaffirms Marxism, Maoism, Atheism, New American, 2014
  11. Martyr killed by bulldozer becomes symbol of growing persecution of Christians in China
  12. Persecution: Does It Help or Hurt Church Growth?
  13. Persecution: Does It Help or Hurt Church Growth?
  14. "China sends Bible owners to labor camp" (November 26, 2003). WorldNetDaily.
  15. Chinese Police Proudly Record Their Torture of Christians, By Voice of the Martyrs|June 12, 2003
  16. Briggs, David (January 23, 2011). "Huffington Post: China’s state-sponsored atheism a failure" [excerpt]. National Post website.
  17. China: The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called "heretical organizations". Amnesty International (23 March 2000). Retrieved on 17 March 2010.
  18. Militant Atheist extremist regime persecuting and torturing Christians in China
  19. Review of: Ethan Gutmann, “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem”, (Prometheus Books, 2014).
  20. Multiple references:
    China in the 21st century. Oxford University Press. “China is still officially an atheist country, but many religions are growing rapidly, including evangelical Christianity (estimates of how many Chinese have converted to some form of Protestantism range widely, but at least tens of millions have done so) and various hybrid sects that combine elements of traditional creeds and belief systems (Buddhism mixed with local folk cults, for example).” 
    The State of Religion Atlas. Simon & Schuster. “Atheism continues to be the official position of the governments of China, North Korea and Cuba.” 
  21. Multiple references:
    The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Seeking a complete annihilation of religion, places of worship were shut down; temples, churches, and mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; sacred texts were burnt; and it was a criminal offence even to possess a religious artifact or sacred text. Atheism had long been the official doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party, but this new form of militant atheism made every effort to eradicate religion completely.” 
    João de Pina Cabral (2002). Between China and Europe: Person, Culture, and Emotion in Macao. Berg. ISBN 0826457495. “These statistics could be interpreted to mean that the policies of militant atheism furthered by the Chinese Communist regime affected the population that arrived in the Territory after 1976.” 
    Graham Hutchings (15 October 2003). Modern China: A Guide to a Century of Change. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674012402. “The problem for Beijing is that these homelands constitute strategic border regions containing valuable natural resources. The central government's determination to control such territories, coupled with the militant atheism at the heart of its ideology, has often made a powder keg of relations between the Han and the non-Han in west China.” 
  22. 23.0 23.1 23.2 The New Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Religion. Wiley-Blackwell. “As soon as the PRC was established, militant atheism compelled the party to impose control and limitations on religious suppliers. Foreign missionaries, who were considered a part of Western imperialism, were expelled, and cultic or heterodox sects that were regarded as reactionary organizations (fandong hui dao men), were banned. Further, major religions – Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism, which were difficult to eliminate and possesed diplomatic value for the isolated regime – were co-opted into national associations.” 
  23. (1999) Encyclopedia of Genocide, Volume I. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0874369282. “As for the communists, from their very formation as a Party on the Soviet model (with the help of Soviet advisors), the Chinese communists used the same kind of repression and terror employed by the Chinese nationalists. They executed so-called counterrevolutionaries, nationalist sympathizers, and other political opponents. Up to 1 October 1949, when Mao Tse-tung officially proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC), the communists, acting as the de facto government of the regions they controlled, killed from almost 1,800,000 to almost 11,700,000 people, most likely close to 3,500,000.” 
  24. 25.0 25.1 Multiple references:
    The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Seeking a complete annihilation of religion, places of worship were shut down; temples, churches, and mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; sacred texts were burnt; and it was a criminal offence even to possess a religious artifact or sacred text. Atheism had long been the official doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party, but this new form of militant atheism made every effort to eradicate religion completely.” 
    Bryan S. Turner. Religion and Modern Society: Citizenship, Secularisation and the State. Cambridge University Press. “The contrast between religion in American and militant atheism in China could not have been more stark or profound. While the Red Guards under Mao Zedong's leadership were busy destroying Buddhist pagodas, Catholic churches and Daoist temples, the Christian Right were equally busy condemning the communists.” 
  25. The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on 2011-03-05. “Seeking a complete annihilation of religion, places of worship were shut down; temples, churches, and mosques were destroyed; artifacts were smashed; sacred texts were burnt; and it was a criminal offence even to possess a religious artifact or sacred text. Atheism had long been the official doctrine of the Chinese Communist Party, but this new form of militant atheism made every effort to eradicate religion completely.” 
  26. Julie Ching (1 January 2001). The Falun Gong: Religious and political implications. American Asian Review. Retrieved on 28 July 2011. “Now, Jiang is emphasizing the need for people, especially party members, to study politics. He accepts the threat of Falun Gong as an ideological one: spiritual beliefs against militant atheism and historical materialism. He wishes to purge the government and the military of such beliefs. His decision is in line with the suspicion of religious protest by the traditional Chinese state. As it turns out, the government's campaign against "evil cults" includes popular folk cults, as well as underground Christians-Catholics and Protestants who meet at house churches.”
  27. Fengang Yang (2004). "Between Secularist Ideology and Desecularizing Reality: The Birth and Growth of Religious Research in Communist China". Sociology of religion: 101. "Under the ride of the Chinese Communist Party, the scholarship of religious research in China has changed from virtual nonexistence in the first thirty years (1949–1979) to flourishing in the reform era (1979–present). Moreover, the predominant view on religion has moved away from militant atheism to a more scientific, objective and consequently more balanced approach to religion. This paper attempts to trace this intellectual history in China and to examine the role of academia in the religious scene. There are three distinct periods in this development: the domination of atheism from 1949 to 1979, the birth of religious research in the 1980s, and the growth of the scholarship in the 1990s, despite political restrictions. Religious research was intended by the government to serve atheist propaganda, but it grew into an independent academic discipline responsive to the desecularizing reality.". 
  28. "Uncounted Millions". paulbogdanor.com. Retrieved on 20 October 2015.
  29. "20th Century Democide". hawaii.edu. Retrieved on 20 October 2015.
  30. China’s Communist Party Reaffirms Marxism, Maoism, Atheism
  31. (Chinese) 倪天祚, "毛主席八次接见红卫兵的组织工作" 中国共产党新闻网 2011-04-07
  32. Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on 2011–03–15. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”