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“Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the Chinese government is not antireligious.”
Posted: 13 October 2007 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here’s an interesting article from the times about religion in China.  I thought it could help as a springboard for discussion about so called “antireligious” activity in China.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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they’re also not communist or a people’s republic, but they are totalitarian as fudge.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Right, well, they’ve got a devious sort of plan to coopt religion into their oligarchic power structure: the government gets to decide what’s a religion and what isn’t. And they control the officeholders in each religion. For example, China decides who the local bishops are, not the Vatican. China decides who the Tibetan leaders are, and will decide who the next Dalai Lama is, not the Tibetan Buddhist heirarchy.

It’s the same issue that Hitler had with the Catholic church. It’s an issue of power. The Chinese government wants a monopoly of power, and—rightly so—they view religion as a very deep potential threat to that monopoly. So they coopt it.

Personally I am quite opposed to that sort of thing. I have no particular use for the Vatican, but on purely religious issues of Catholicism they should have the freedom to say and do what they wish without government interference.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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dougsmith - 13 October 2007 11:30 AM

Personally I am quite opposed to that sort of thing. I have no particular use for the Vatican, but on purely religious issues of Catholicism they should have the freedom to say and do what they wish without government interference.

Agreed!  I am opposed to any sort of totalitarian government whatsoever, whether religious or otherwise.  And I am most certainly opposed to any sort of oppression toward private religion or private religious beliefs, to the degree that we are genuinely talking about private sorts of religious beliefs.  It is another matter entirely, though, wnen we start talking about allowing religions to involve themselves in government.  Is it not?

As a related thought… I am under the impression that religion in government leads to the oppression of other religions.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Yes, the separation of church and state is both to the benefit of the state and to the benefit of the church. That’s why secularism is in fact a great friend to the honestly religious.

I don’t think that religion necessarily leads to the oppression of other religions. For example, it doesn’t in a secularist society where there is freedom of religious belief and no religious influence on politics. The problem is when religion mixes with politics and becomes a sort of theocracy, as in 15th century Spain.

Incidentally, this is why America’s Founding Fathers were so in favor of secularism. They wanted to avoid religious persecution which they knew would occur if religion were allowed to invade politics. They’d had enough of that in Europe.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 13 October 2007 12:02 PM

I don’t think that religion necessarily leads to the oppression of other religions. For example, it doesn’t in a secularist society where there is freedom of religious belief and no religious influence on politics.

This is true.  I also think that such a society must also have a certain shared commitment to secularism in order to succeed, as well as a certain core tolerance for the diversity of private religious belief.  More importantly, the right of dissent over any and all religious belief.  To genuinely flourish I think that it would need to also have a shared globally  based value system.  As opposed to a a relativistic multi-cultural stance.

[ Edited: 13 October 2007 12:28 PM by erasmusinfinity ]
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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 13 October 2007 12:20 PM

This is true.  I also think that such a society must also have a certain shared commitment to secularism in order to succeed, as well as a certain core tolerance for the diversity of private religious belief.  More importantly, the right of dissent over any and all religious belief.  To genuinely flourish I think that it would need to also have a shared globally  based value system.  As opposed to a a relativistic multi-cultural stance.

We’re on the same page, erasmusinfinity.

wink

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Posted: 13 October 2007 09:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Doug’s first post is correct. It is alarming to me how many “Protestant, and Catholic (non PRC approved) senior government officials we have here, who are all now favorite sons of the PRC because they have been willing to be good lap dogs. Our Chief Executive (a professed devout Vatican Catholic) just two days ago (no doubt to appease his masters) warned that full Democracy in Hong Kong could lead to strife similar to the Cultural Revolution, as if that had anything to do with democracy.

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/10/12/hongkong.democracy.ap/?iref=mpstoryview

Hong Kong’s leader said Friday that too much democracy could lead to another Cultural Revolution, when gangs of youths were given free rein to persecute suspected government opponents in mainland China.

How does one with so little grasp of either History or Political Science attain such a high level in governance?

Harumph.

[ Edited: 13 October 2007 09:30 PM by cgallaga ]
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Posted: 13 October 2007 09:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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cgallaga,

When you say “here” are you meaning that you are in China?

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Posted: 13 October 2007 09:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes you can see my location in my profile.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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cgallaga - 13 October 2007 09:27 PM

Hong Kong’s leader said Friday that too much democracy could lead to another Cultural Revolution, when gangs of youths were given free rein to persecute suspected government opponents in mainland China.

How does one with so little grasp of either History or Political Science attain such a high level in governance?

It’s sad how often you hear arguments made that pit democracy vs communism, rather than democracy vs totalitarianism or capitalism vs communism.  Those pittings would make more sense because capitalism & communism are economic concepts, whereas democracy & totalitarianism refer to methods of rule or distributions of power.  In the PRC, the means of sustaining totalitarian rule are to spew idealistic rhetoric about a communistic or socialistic provision for the needs or everyone- a rhetoric that is rarely fulfilled in practice.  The term “Democracy” is then equated to mean capitalism and is thus vilified.  At any rate, the cultural revolution was the product of authoritarianism, not democracy.  Democratization could have even been a positive solution.

I think there is a similar problem on this side of the pond, as well, with a different sort of rhetoric behind it.  In the US, communistic and socialistic ideas are often equated with totalitarian ideas.  Examples such as China are commonly cited as evidence that “communism” doesn’t work (please note my facetious quotation marks suggesting that these folk are not really talking about communism.)  This line of thought then leads to the assertion that any and all forms of governmental economic regulation necessarily lead to totalitarian government.  On a secondary level, the idea that atheism is connected to totalitarianism, and thus communism, surfaces.  I would argue that these sorts of assertions are commonly used in America as justifications for an economic form of authoritarianism.

I am interested in getting your perspective about similarities and differences between the situation in Hong Kong and the situation in PRC, considering that you’re there looking at it right now.  I was in both mainland China and Hong Kong a couple of months ago, just passing through, and observed a strikingly different situation between the two places with regard to religion.  In the mainland there was plenty of religion (not to mention other related superstition).  In Hong Kong, on the other hand, there were ranting evangelists on the streets… much like here in New York!  Nearly one third of the television channels in our Hong Kong hotel room had televangelist programs.  I even saw a group of Falun Gong members reenacting their martyr routine on the street, an act that would have been prohibited in the mainland for political reasons.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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And oddly I believe the last statistic I saw was something like 90% non belief. Maybe your hotel was to blame…Marriott? The actual HK stations offer almost no religion of any kind. Yes you will see many mainland dissident groups acting here where they would be imprisoned there. It is a tradition that has gone on since the Cultural Revolution began. We even hold a huge annual gathering demanding the Central Government take full responsibility for what we openly call the Tien An Men Massacre.

Hong Kong is a very secular place, and one of the capitalist super engines of the world. It is both why the Central Government prized it and also why it fears it. Can one actually hold an economic tiger by the tail without getting bit? Time will tell, but already I see HK political and social systems transforming those of China, rather than the other way round…of course I may be wearing rose colored glasses.

Of course Hong Kong has one of the highest literacy and education levels in the world, so it should be no surprise that it has no deeply supernatural belief, but mostly the mundane educated “we all believe in some sort of a something somewhere” which ranges from the traditional to new age (many avowed atheists still burn ghost money in August/ tradition or remnants of superstition who can really say). Where as the cs salivating over that 1.3 billion Chinese market is to ignore that fact the at billion of them don’t even have a single light bulb.  Of course they are more prone to believe in supernatural explanations to observed phenomena, they live in a pre-industrial age. Much the same as 2/3 of the rest of the world. In Hong Kong, all but those very few in any society who choose to shun social aid have access to television and internet.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 08:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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What you are saying is very interesting.  And I probably shouldn’t mention that the hotel that I stayed at was the YMCA in Kowloon.  lol.  No wonder there was so much Christian programming.  Everything that you said sinks up with what I observed and makes sense.  Do you have any impressions about Shanghai?  It also appears very modern, although nowhere near as consistently modernized as HK.  I would say that Shanghai felt hyper-developed and undeveloped at the same time.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Yes all the new cities in China feel like that. They feel like what we suppose the frontier towns of the gold rush must have felt like. Yes they had the railroad, the telegraph and all the then most modern of technology, but the were smack in the center of the wild frontier. China’s boom towns are much the same, although instead of a frontier onto the wilderness they are frontiers of memes.

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Posted: 15 October 2007 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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cgallaga,

you ever read any of Chalmers Johnsons stuff on China? some of its old but still highly relevant today

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Posted: 15 October 2007 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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No I had not, thanks for the tip though, his blowback trilogy seems potentially interesting.

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