(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)
China to ban religious profiteering
CHINA is amending a religious affairs regulation to ban personal profiteering from religions.
Religious groups, institutes of education and sites are all non-profit, and no individuals or organizations should divide up, occupy or embezzle their property and revenue, according to a draft amendment to the 2004 regulation, released Wednesday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council for soliciting public opinion until Oct. 7.
No organizations and individuals are entitled to ownership nor rights of use of religious venues if they donate money to build the venues, and they may not gain “economic benefits” from the venues, the draft amendment reads.
The amendment was made to “ensure citizen’s religious freedom, safeguard religious and social harmony and regulate religious affairs.”
In tourist resorts featuring religious activities, buildings should be subject to the style and environment of the religious activity venues. Authorities should coordinate the interests of the venues and resorts, protecting normal religious activities and the rights of religious staff and believers.
Religious groups are allowed to accept donations from overseas individuals and organizations, based on relevant regulations and without any conditions attached, it said, but donations exceeding 100,000 yuan (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) must be reported to local authorities for approval.
Any unapproved acceptance of donations from home or overseas will be punished.
Those who, without authorization, organize believers to pay homage, receive training or attend meetings and other activities overseas will be fined from 20,000 to 200,000 yuan, and may be held criminally responsible.
The draft also reiterates that it is illegal to preach, hold religious activities, or establish religious organs or sites in schools.