China to ban religious profiteering

China to ban religious profiteering

Beijing, Sep 8 (IANS) China is amending a religious affairs regulation to ban personal profiteering from religions.

Religious groups, institutes of education and sites are all non-profit, and no individuals or organisations should divide up, occupy or embezzle their property and revenue, according to a draft amendment to the 2004 regulation, released on Wednesday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council for soliciting public opinion until October 7.

No organisations and individuals are entitled to ownership nor rights of use of religious venues if they donate money to build the venues, and they may not gain “economic benefits” from the venues, Xinhua news agency quoted the draft amendment as saying.

The amendment was made to “ensure citizen’s religious freedom, safeguard religious and social harmony and regulate religious affairs”.

In tourist resorts featuring religious activities, buildings should be subject to the style and environment of the religious activity venues. Authorities should coordinate the interests of the venues and resorts, protecting normal religious activities and the rights of religious staff and believers.

Religious groups are allowed to accept donations from overseas individuals and organisations, based on relevant regulations and without any conditions attached, it said, but donations exceeding 100,000 yuan (about $15,000) must be reported to local authorities for approval.

Any unapproved acceptance of donations from home or overseas will be punished.

Those who, without authorisation, organise believers to pay homage, receive training or attend meetings and other activities overseas will be fined, and may be held criminally responsible.

The draft also reiterates that it is illegal to preach, hold religious activities, or establish religious organs or sites in schools.

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