In recent months the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who currently govern China, have made a number of political decisions that exhibit an opposition to religion. While not a certainty, it is of my opinion that these decisions are being made in response to the increasing prevalence of Islamist rebel groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The latest move made by the CCP is to ban all persons who have any religious affiliation from joining the party. Matt Sheehan’s article entitled “China’s Communist Party Bans Believers, Doubles Down On Atheism,” The Huffington Post, 2 February 2015 explains the issue at hand.
Sheehan’s article tells that the decision made by the CCP is in an effort to eradicate Western ideologies from Chinese education and media. While the CCP has had policies that oppose religion for years, it is not until now that these policies have been strongly enforced. The party’s position against religion finds its roots in Marxist-Leninist thought which “decries religion as a delusion that distracts the oppressed masses from demanding their fair share.” Along with the ban of religion, Christmas celebrations in schools have been banned in the city of Wenzhou, and the same city has made plans to demolish over 200 churches this past year.
I am both compelled and distraught at the decisions made by the CCP. The party’s intentions are seemingly good, as they believe religion is a legitimate detriment to the well-being of its citizens. However, the trouble I find in this policy is that it is an attempt to censor free speech. I am opposed to totalitarian practices such as this, as I believe that it will instill fear in the citizens of China. Unfortunately, there is no situation in which a completely uncensored society can exist without offending some people. Therefore, I believe the larger underlying issue that should be discussed in regards to the CCP’s new policy is: To what extent can free speech be practiced so that it harms a minimal amount of others? This is one of the greatest issues our world faces today, and it is constantly becoming more intense due to the increasing ease of access to information and communication. For now, religion seems to be at the forefront of this debate, and after reading this article I am left seriously wondering if we will ever see a world that is unified by religion, or perhaps by the complete eradication of it.