Some hoped that with the new religious law, which was finally signed on August 26, 2017 and came into force on February 1, 2018, there would have been less control on religion. In fact, things went from bad to worse.
Falun Gong, banned and persecuted in China, is described by the authorities as the quintessential xie jiao (“heterodox teaching”). Yet, until 1996, Falun Gong was hailed by the regime as a positive contributor to China’s physical and moral welfare. What happened in the following years?
Between the government-controlled “red market” of religion and the banned and persecuted groups of the “black market,” lies the vast area of the religious “gray market,” including churches and temples that are neither legal nor explicitly banned as xie jiao and a number of other religious and spiritual activities.
“Official” or “government-controlled” religions are often mentioned in China. Five religious bodies are indeed authorized by the regime, although even their liberty is limited.
Since the late Ming era, China has used xie jiao to designate religious movements the government does not like. Their repression has always been brutal, but what a xie jiao is, is far from being clear.
China is hoping to be part of the next soccer World Cup in 2022. But few remember soccer started in China within Christian churches.