SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is to publish online details of legal religious venues, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday, apparently in an effort to identify unsanctioned groups as part of an effort to “root out illegal religious activities”.
Names and addresses for “all Buddhist and Taoist venues” would be published within two years, Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, told a conference on Friday, according to the news agency.
Xinhua made no mention of other religions but it quoted Wang as saying the information would help stop illegal religious activity in unauthorized locations.
The government’s attitude toward religion has softened significantly in recent decades, and people are allowed to practice religion at sanctioned institutions that are required to preach and practice loyalty to the government.
Despite the rules, unsanctioned religious movements, which the authorities call cults, have proliferated in recent years, and the government has grown increasingly active in trying to discourage their growth…
…The government is locked in a long-running dispute with the Vatican over who appoints Catholic bishops, and in recent months some officials have removed crosses from Christian churches and banned Christmas symbolism.
The government is even more suspicious of Islam, and has tried to discourage traditional Muslim practice in the Xinjiang autonomous region. It has also tried to suppress political activism among Tibetan Buddhists…