The key statute on domestic indoctrination is in force since January 1. Now religions are told how they should enforce it. We offer a full English translation of the Guidelines.
by Hu Zimo
The “Patriotic Education Law” (爱国主义教育法), the brainchild of the CCP Central Propaganda Department, was approved in a revised version on October 24, 2023, by the 14th National People’s Congress Standing Committee and came into effect on January 1, 2024. It has been hailed as one the most important recent Chinese laws, as it reorganizes the whole domestic propaganda effort of the Party. “Education,” as “Bitter Winter” explained when the law was passed, does not refer to schools only.
On January 4, 2004, the 25th meeting of the National Joint Conference of Religious Groups was held at the China Islamic Association. The five authorized religions issued Guidelines on how the Patriotic Education Law should be implemented by religious communities, making them even more than before mouthpieces for the Party’s propaganda. As the Guidelines state, believers should understand that in China “the state is greater than religion, and the state law is greater than religious rules.”
We offer a full English translation of the Guidelines.
The “Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China” is our country’s first law on the theme of patriotism. The formulation and implementation of the Patriotic Education Law, and the promotion and protection of patriotic education in the new era through the rule of law, are of great and far-reaching significance for inheriting and carrying forward the national spirit, gathering the people’s strength, promoting the construction of a strong country and national rejuvenation. To conscientiously study, publicize, and implement the Patriotic Education Law, inherit and carry forward the spirit of patriotism in our country’s religious circles, and enhance the national awareness, civic awareness, rule of law awareness, and patriotic sentiments of religious clergy and religious believers, we issue the following directives:
Adhere to the principles of patriotism, love for the party and love for socialism. Strengthen patriotic education and deeply understand that without the Chinese Communist Party, there would be no New China, there would be no socialism with Chinese characteristics, it would be impossible to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and there would be no good possibility of a healthy life for the various religions in our country today, and no happy life for the vast number of religious believers. Our country’s religious circles must learn, think, and practice Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, especially General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important expositions on religious work, firmly support the “two establishments” and resolutely achieve the “two safeguards” to safeguard national unity and peace. We should focus on national unity, understand the idea of building a socialist modern country in a comprehensive way, and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation as a distinct theme, strengthen ideological guidance, cultural cultivation, educational guidance, and practical cultivation, build a solid sense of the Chinese nation’s community, and continuously enhance our respect for the great motherland, the identity of the Chinese nation, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party, and socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Adhere to and carry forward the fine tradition of patriotism. Our country’s religious circles have a long and profound tradition of patriotism. Buddhism advocates “dignifying the land, benefiting and loving people,” Taoism insists on “helping the world and benefiting people, protecting the country and loving the people,” Islam advocates “patriotism is part of faith,” Catholicism emphasizes that “patriotism is a commandment of God,” and [Protestant] Christianity requires that “a good Christian should be a good citizen.” These are the enduring spiritual riches of our country’s religious circles. We must deeply explore the patriotic values contained in Chinese religious thought, actively publicize the glorious history of the unity and struggle of our country’s religious circles under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and tell vivid stories of patriotism, love of religion, and dedication to society with heart and soul, so that patriotism can become the firm belief, spiritual strength, and conscious action of religious clergy and religious believers.
Persist in filling up our country’s religion with excellent traditional Chinese culture. Strengthen cultural self-confidence, inherit and develop China’s excellent traditional culture, carry forward socialist core values, strengthen religious ideological construction, deeply explore the content of the teachings and canons that are conducive to social harmony, the progress of the times, and healthy civilization, and make adjustments to the teachings and canons so that they are in line with the development and progress of contemporary Chinese requirements and in line with the official interpretation of China’s excellent traditional culture, and promote the deepening and solidification of the Sinicization of religion in our country. Strengthen the study and use of the country’s common spoken and written language by religious circles in the process of interpreting and preaching scriptures, organize religious clergy and religious believers to recite Chinese classics, and carry out learning and experience activities for China’s excellent traditional culture. Celebrate the Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and other important festivals together. Through colorful folk cultural activities, we can experience traditional culture and enhance our feelings for our country.
Continue to carry out patriotic education and practice patriotic activities. Make full use of commemorations of major national historical events, national public memorial ceremonies, patriotic education bases, etc. to carry out extensive patriotic education and inspire patriotism among religious clergy and religious believers. Continue to carry out education on the history of the Party, the history of the New China, the history of reform and opening up, the history of socialist development, the history of the development of the Chinese nation, and education on the theme of loving the Party, patriotism, and socialism, and further promote the “Four Advances” activities at religious venues. Integrate patriotism throughout the entire process of education and teaching in religious schools and into various subjects and teaching materials.
Adhere to comprehensive and strict governance of religions, strengthen the self-construction of religious groups, and establish a good image of patriotism and love of religion in the religious community. Carry out publicity and education on the socialist rule of law, and guide religious clergy and religious believers to firmly establish the awareness that the state is greater than religion, the state law is greater than religious rules, and the people are citizens first. Relying on magazines, websites, public accounts, etc. sponsored by religious circles, we will produce, broadcast, and publish excellent works on patriotic themes, set up special columns, strengthen publicity and reporting, sing the main theme of patriotism, and strive to comprehensively promote the construction of a strong country and the great cause of national rejuvenation. We will contribute wisdom and strength.
Catholic Bishops Conference of China
China Christian Association
National Association of Chinese Young Men Christian Associations
National Association of Young Women’s Christian Association of China
January 4, 2024