A forum in Nanjing insisted that atheism is “a mandatory feature of a Socialist country,” and “sinicization” is just a tool to promote it.
by Zhang Chunhua
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its 100 years of existence has killed Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, practitioners of folk religions and of Falun Gong, democrats, peasants, workers, professionals, dissident Party members, and pretty much everybody else. There is, however, somebody they have not managed to kill, God. But not for lack of efforts, as we were reminded during the celebration of the CCP’s 100th anniversary.
Because of the celebration, a particularly solemn 9th Scientific Atheism Forum was held at Nanjing University. It was co-organized by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Marxist Theoretical Discipline Construction and Theoretical Research Project Leading Group, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Marxism, Nanjing University’s School of Marxism, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Science and Atheism Research Center, and the Chinese Atheism Society, on the theme of “One Hundred Years of the Communist Party of China and Marxist Atheism.”
Xue Hailin, from Nanjing University, offered a useful summary of Xi Jinping’s thought on atheism. Xi, Xue said by quoting from different speeches, not only emphasized that atheism is “a basic requirement” for being a CCP member, it is also “a mandatory feature of a Socialist country.” Therefore, every Party member should be “a firm atheist and actively promote Marxist atheism.”
Gong Yun, Vice President of the Institute of Marxism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that 100 years of CCP history are 100 years of “hard work in promoting atheism.” “As the starting point and ideological cornerstone of Marxist theory, Marxist atheism is the most indispensable spiritual background for Chinese Communists,” Gong Yun said, quoting again “Xi Jinping’s important thoughts on Marxist atheism at the 2016 National Religious Work Conference.”
Fan Jianxin, Chairman of the Chinese Atheism Society, stated that statistics prove that atheism is constantly growing in China. But the battle is not over, and the CCP is at work “continuously consolidating and expanding the dominant position of atheism.”
An interesting speech was delivered by Zhao Wenhong from the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Zhao explained that the aim of Xi Jinping’s “sinicization” policies is not simply to eliminate any residual foreign influence in religion but to “promote secularization” and accompany religions to their gradual demise.
Other speakers discussed anti-xie-jiao propaganda (i.e., propaganda against the banned “heterodox teachings,” or “evil cults” in the more frequent but less accurate translation), and the use of the Internet to promote atheism.