Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Do You Think About Illegal Religious Activity?

At China Digital Times, there's an interesting article about political education in Western China. Someone visited a rural school and found a sign at the school that translated into the title of this blog post. The sign seems intended for the teachers as much as for the students.

Among the 23 behaviors:

Opening private schools to study religious texts

Conducting marriage ceremonies in traditional methods

Encouraging students to attend religious services

Going on non-government-sponsored pilgrimages

Building new religious places without authorization

Organizing or hosting religious activities without government credentials.

Printing and distributing religious propaganda

Receiving religious contributions from foreign countries.

Arbitrarily growing religious following

Infiltration by foreign religious elements

Disseminating speech inconsistent with the official version

Organizing demonstrations or protests

Which of these, if any, do you think a government has the right to enforce? Which, if any, would governments be overstepping their bounds by enforcing?


Joshua said...

Um, how about none? There's nothing on that list that I can legitimately see as being within the governments duties. That's assuming this is for the students.

If it is for the teachers then some of them make sense. Teachers shouldn't be encouraging students about religion for example. And one could make an argument that a teacher simultaneously running a religious school could be a problem (I don't think I or a court would but that but the argument could be made). But even then, most of this seems like what citizens should be free to do.

Michael Caton said...

Exactly - I'm glad someone responded to this. I post these kinds of things so that atheists who haven't thought about it have an answer for the smartass "why don't you move to China/North Korea/other officially atheist dictatorship". It's not a government's job to be taking positions either way on these questions.

What's always interesting is how one overarching argument from authority refuses to tolerate others (in China's case, a political argument from authority won't tolerate religious ones).