Having been to China and having traveled to various religious or spiritual sites, this class has provided a different line of thinking as to why many Chinese people are religious and continue with religious practices even if some of these people are self-proclaimed atheists. In thinking of the Communist Party in China as a religious power as opposed to simply a ruling power, this provides a different light as to why the Party may view many religions as threats unless these religions are carefully monitored and censored. As the Party’s ideals themselves can serve as religious ideals, it only makes sense then that the Party would see rival religions as threats to the integrity of the Party’s control of the people and these people’s trust in the party.
Aside from this, it has also been eye-opening in discussing the amount of underground churches and underground practitioners of various ‘banned’ faiths/religions/spiritual practices. Of course, because the Party only approves 5 regulated versions of religious practice, it makes sense that there would be some instances of rebellion in the forms of underground churches and the like, but it was quite surprising to realize that the numbers of these underground practitioners and churches is much greater than initially anticipated.
I am excited to see what else will come from these underground churches, both in our discussions and in the way that the Party will decide to deal with them. Obviously, if the Party’s goal was to rid China of these underground observances, their methods have not been so productive this far.