China’s nine major religious organisations want all religious sites across the country to raise the national flag on special days to reflect patriotism and sinicisation.
But some Catholics claim the initiative aims to force religious people to be patriotic. “Is it necessary to train believers to hold the ritual of raising the national flag and to play the national anthem before they can hold religious activities?” one priest asked.
The official Catholic Church in China website quoted a report from the website of the Central United Front Work Department saying that the Sixth Joint Conference of the Country›s Religious Groups was held on July 31 in Beijing. Wang Zuoan, deputy director of the Central United Front Work Department and director of the State Religious Affairs Bureau, addressed the meeting.
They propose raising the national flag at all religious venues to help religious figures and believers strengthen their national consciousness and civic awareness, deepen their political, ideological and emotional recognition of the Communist Party and the country, and adhere to religious sinicisation.
A Catholic in Hebei Diocese in central China described the initiative as “a political incident, as politics directly interfere in religious internal management. Convening a national meeting for promoting this practice means it is mandatory and has to be nationally implemented.”
He said that raising the national flag at churches started after crosses were demolished in Zhejiang province. The practice was then launched in Xinjiang province and is now being promoted nationwide.