Purdue Center on Religion and Chinese Society conference attendees reach consensus, calling for protection of religious freedom in China

Photo courtesy of Purdue University’s Center on Religion and
Chinese Society.

China Aid Association

(West Lafayette, Ind.—May 13, 2014) More than 50 leading Chinese rights lawyers, house church leaders and scholars met for a conference, titled “Religious Freedom and Chinese Society: A Symposium of Case Analysis,” held by Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society from May 5-7 and reached a consensus, which proposes principles to be followed by the Chinese government to remedy the lack of protection of religious freedom.

“This is a historic consensus for religious freedom in China among leading rights lawyers, house church leaders and academic scholars on religion in China. It matches both the spirit of the international norms and the Chinese Constitution on religious freedom,” said Rev. Bob Fu, president and founder of China Aid, who was a speaker at the conference and a signatory of the consensus.

Photo courtesy of Purdue University’s Center on Religion and
Chinese Society.

“In light of the recent escalation of severe, barbaric crackdowns against Chinese citizens’ religious freedom in China, we call upon the top Chinese leaders to adhere to the standards listed in this document, which is the only way to reach harmony between church and state in the Chinese society today,” Fu said.

The recent escalation of persecution Fu referred to was a demolition campaign, which is on going in China’s coastal Zhejiang province and seems to focus on religious organizations (see https://chinaaid.org/2014/04/zhejiang-christians-fear-sanjiang.htmlhttps://chinaaid.org/2014/04/two-zhejiang-churches-demolished.html and https://chinaaid.org/2014/05/more-zhejiang-churches-report-threats.html).

Those interested in adding their signature to the consensus are invited to send an email to [email protected] Be sure to include full name, profession and residence in the email.

The full consensus reached and signed by conference attendees can be read below:

“Purdue Consensus on Religious Freedom” with Signatories

We are deeply concerned about the following reality:

1. China’s Constitution and law lack a clear definition of and sufficient protection for religious freedom.

2. Misunderstanding, violation, discrimination and persecution abound with regard to religious freedom in legal and social practices of China.

3. As a result, intellectuals and the general public in China lack an understanding of and a basic consensus on the value and implications of religious freedom.

In accordance with the definition and protection of religious freedom prescribed by a series of international covenants on human rights, we hold the following beliefs:

1. Religious freedom encompasses not only individual freedom of conscience and the freedom to express belief or disbelief in a religion, but also the freedom of family members (adults and children) to adhere to and to express their religious faith, the freedom of parents to instruct their children in their religious faith, the freedom of parents to choose religious education for their children, and the freedom of children to practice their religion and receive the religious education chosen for them by their parents. Religious freedom also encompasses the freedom of religious groups to practice their faith, to worship together, to establish religious venues, to use religious symbols, to publish religious books, and to disseminate religious faith.

2. Religious freedom is a basic and core value of modern nations and societies. Without full protection of religious freedom, other freedoms such as the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression, the freedom of thought, the freedom of academic pursuit, the freedom of family, and the freedom of education that are guaranteed by the Constitution will not be fully protected in reality.

3. Religious freedom implies that religious faiths and non-religious systems, whether in private or in public, are entitled to equality with respect to free expression and legal standing. Neither religious nor non-religious systems shall be deemed negative and discriminated against.

4. Religious freedom implies a constraint on state power, i.e. the state cannot pass judgment on any religious or non-religious system as doctrinally or morally right or wrong, good or bad, let alone penalize citizens on basis of such judgment. Neither can the state make any religious or non-religious system the basis for the state’s legitimacy and accord it a preferential legal status.

5. Religious freedom implies that the state has no right or moral authority to distinguish between “legitimate religion” and “feudal superstition,” between “orthodox religion” and “heterodox cult,” between “orthodoxy” and “heresy.” Members of any traditional or emerging religion shall not be subject to government censorship or legal judgment for merely believing, expressing, disseminating, or practicing their religious faith.

To that end, we fervently appeal that:

In legal and public life, all Chinese citizens, irrespective of their religion, denomination, and non-religious system, have the responsibility to respect, to protect, and to fight for the above principles and values of religious freedom.

China Aid Contacts

Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Website: www.chinaaid.org