As this semester draws to an end and we come to the end of our intriguing study of Chinese Cults and Religions it seems necessary to pause and reflect on where we have come and highlight some of the most important and fascinating aspects of our interrogatories. We started this semester trying to understand how the Chinese government rules China, if it does at all, we learned how the reach and influence of the government diminishes as you move further into the countryside. We learned about how the Chinese government seems to be putting up a facade of well being and growth to look good in the international level, but they have forgotten about their citizens and have used them as mere means to and ends and not and ends in and of themselves. By looking at the citizens as mere numbers rather than actual people, the government has created an environment where the average citizen needs to look to other organizations for hope and promise in their harsh lives. This is were religion in China has found it’s niche. From books as God is Red we have learned that many people who become religious do it because their life was in shambles, caused by the government, and the church offered them some type of new hope or new beginning. Furthermore, we have studied the growth of movements, some may say religion, of Falun Gong and how that appeals to the needs of the citizens that the government has not been able to fulfill. The government has always been critical of religion because they see it as a threat to their sovereignty. They have constantly enacted new reforms and programs to try and suppress religion, which have never worked fully. Subsequently after each new reform or program religion has grown in strength. Perhaps the most important thing to understand about China in regards to religion, is how spiritual it has always been and how integral the interaction of the spiritual world has been in the daily lives of the average Chinese citizen. Form ancestor worship to fungshui Chinese life has been influenced by the terrestrial and spiritual world interplay for thousands of years. This perhaps is what the government needs to understand that no matter what they do, or how hard they try to crush religion it will never happen due to the deep need for religion in the lives of the Chinese. In these last few weeks CIT south bend will be working to more fully understand the Falun Gong movement through our work in our video essay.
Shout out to the protester in Wenzhou who was hospitalized after demonstrations against the cross destruction campaign turned violent. Over the course of the campaign over 2,000 crosses have been destroyed. Members of the affected church usually gather outside of the church in an effort to stop the destruction of their sacred areas. The destruction crews have recently become larger and are more willing to use force to make the protesters disperse. It will be important to see if the protesters are reactive to the growing size of the destruction crews and also pursue a violent course of action to protect their churches.
Shout out to the Purdue Professor who released an article about a prominent human rights lawyer who was put in jail for speaking out against the cross demolition campaign. The lawyer was arrested and detained for 7 months and was finally released after confessing his crimes in what is to believed to have been a forced confession. More work similar to the work of this professor needs to be done in order to shed more light on the situation in China. Since current western media is caught up in other dynamic issues that are more prominent in people’s lives in the west it is up to people like this professor to spread the word and make more people aware of the mistreatment in China.
Shout out to the president of China Aid who on march 24th will be going to the house of commons to discuss the reign of political terror of President Xi Jinping. He has likened his reign as similar to the cultural revolution in the persecution of religious groups. He will talk about the continuation of government projects to destroy crosses and the persecution of those who opposed these movements. He will go into depth about the unfair jail sentences of clergy and of congregate members. He will also talk about the unwarranted crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists that has been occurring lately.
Shout out to the Chinese Pastor and his wife who are facing 10 year prison sentences for speaking out against the Chinese Government who is currently on a cross destruction mission. This again shows the violations of human rights and constitutional rights that have been stated by the Chinese Government in their constitution.
At this point in time in the course I believe one of the most valuable things that we have learned is the reasoning for why groups such as Falun Gong have been created in China and why these groups have been so harshly persecuted by the Chinese Government. After 1980 a vacuum of religion was created, which brought about the creation of many different groups. At this time and to today China has been riddled with social issues stemming from government actions. The opening up of the China to the market economy of the world has marginalized many portions of the Chinese population. Through this marginalization widespread poverty has been created and many people are losing hope. Since the Government is the reason for their problems they do not know where to turn to so they find groups which bring promises similar to Falun Gong, those of cultivation and meaning, and find hope and companionship in them. The government then persecutes them when they grow too big and gain too much support, due to the fear of a mass uprising. The fear the government posses is not unwarranted. Throughout Chinsees history there have been events where these type of religious groups do end up overthrowing the government. However, this fear does not justify the treatment that the followers have received. I believe the understanding of these relationships is essential in studying Chinese religion because it provides the background needed to understand why these groups form and why the government acts the way they do.
Shout out to the group of Christians in China taking legal action against unlawful persecution in China. Three plaintiffs are fighting the fines they received by the Chinese government due to their religious practices as unlawful. It will be interesting to see if anything will come of these appeals as it is very unlikely that anything will change. As we discussed in class this week the Chinese judicial system is broken and is a pawn of the party. I do not believe that these three plaintiffs will be able to do anything for their situation. I fear that by appealing they will only bring more pressure down on them and their congregations. However, it maybe a good way to get more word out about the religious persecution that people receive in China today.