A local Religious Affairs Bureau in Hubei Province summoned local Buddhists to a meeting about the newly revised Regulations on Religious Affairs. Not only were they required to pay a participation fee, but also had to purchase national flags and fire extinguishers.
On September 11, the Religious Affairs Bureau of Yangxin county in Hubei’s Huangshi city organized a meeting for nearly 500 local Buddhists to educate them on the new religious policies in China.
At the gathering held at the Wanfo Temple, the director of the bureau informed the participants that all religious activities in their temples should be carried out within the scope of the newly revised Regulations on Religious Affairs that came into force in February this year.
The issue of finances in the places of worship was also discussed. The director stressed that all donations exceeding 500 RMB should be reported to the authorities for review and approval; if not, those involved will be held personally accountable.
Besides, each temple representative was demanded to purchase from the Religious Affairs Bureau fire extinguishers, fire blankets, flashlights, and a national flag, all of which were to be installed at their places of worship. The temples refusing to comply with the requirements could be required to pay fines or even be closed down.
According to a Buddhist nun who attended the meeting, all attendees were required to pay 200 RMB (almost 30 USD) as a participation fee. On top of that, she had to spend over 600 RMB or 87 USD to purchase the fire gear and a national flag.
“I spent 1,600 RMB (over 230 USD) for a permit in 2017; I also give 1,000 RMB (145 USD) to the Religious Affairs Bureau each year. I had to pay 200 RMB for attending the meeting. Sometimes, there are more than 1,000 believers at such meetings, and the bureau collects hundreds of thousands of RMB at each of them. And there is nothing we can do,” complained the nun.
When some believers protested about the amount of money that the Religious Affairs Bureau requires them to spend, the director replied: “This is an order from Xi Jinping. No one can violate it.”
Reported by Shen Xiang