Beijing Law Seen as a New Control on Religion

BEIJING, JULY 24, 2002 ( The Beijing city government has issued a law ostensibly protecting the «normal» practices of religious people and organizations.

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But in fact the measure enables authorities to exercise stricter control of all religious activities, says the Misna missionary agency.

Beijing continues its persecution against Christians who do not belong to the state-approved «patriotic church,» which does not recognize papal authority. The government also opposes sects such as Falun Gong, a spiritual movement combining Taoism and Buddhism.

The municipal People’s Congress recently passed the Provisions on Religious Affairs, which takes effect Nov. 1.

The congress said the measure was adopted to protect the religious practices of each individual and of religious organizations in the capital, which has a high concentration of religious groups and sites.

Under the law, whoever enters a place of worship will have to «respect the traditions» and «not interfere with the usual religious practices through debates and propaganda against religion.»

The measure also foresees that anyone who wants to erect new buildings, set up public facilities, or hold public activities at a religious site must first obtain the approval of religious authorities and the competent government department.

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