On the issues of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, and religion, the Chinese government actually has a very large constituent of compatible ideological “supporters” within the U.S.. Recently, the American Humanist Association (AHA) blogger, Luis Granados, published two articles: “India vs. China: Part 1” and “India vs. China: Part 2.”
In part one, Granados rejects the Dalai Lama’s recent admonishment of China about religious harmony. Here is how he starts off his article:
The Dalai Lama was sounding off again a few days ago, this time recommending that China should learn about religious harmony from India. “When I see conflicts in various parts of world I try to tell them that people belonging to different races and following different religion can live in harmony.” He boasted that India was known all over the world for non-violence and religious harmony, adding that “People in China very much need to know this.”
What on earth is he talking about?
The Chinese view the Dalai Lama as a politician too (see “Dalai Lama tries speaking to the Chinese” by Buxi). AHA minded Americans are too skeptical of religious leaders politicking.
In “India vs. China: Part 2“, Granados weighs in on modern Chinese history involving Tibet. He talks about “house churches” in China and China’s success in Separation of Church and State as compared the U.S.. Again, I invite you to head over to AHA for a read and judge the information he presents for yourself. He concludes:
I’m not a propagandist for the government of China. It does a lot of things that are simply despicable. But when it comes to its attitude toward religion, if we open our minds, we just might learn something. Enormous freedom of worship, with almost no religious violence or God expert interference in politics or policy making. There’s a lot to like about that.
AHA is dedicated to the Separation of Church and State and has a very large following in the U.S.. Here is AHA’s stated mission:
We strive to bring about a progressive society where being good without gods is an accepted way to live life. We are accomplishing this through our defense of civil liberties and secular governance, by our outreach to the growing number of people without traditional religious faith, and through a continued refinement and advancement of the humanist worldview.
Everyone knows that the Chinese government is decidedly secular. So, I find it not surprising that people like Granados and like-minded Americans end up evaluating certain issues in similar fashion, and ultimately, even for issues that are so close to home for the Chinese.
In my opinion, the Chinese government has a very natural compatible ideological “support” base in the U.S. (or the West) if it can continue to maintain complete separation of church and state. That is an ideal the West generally strives for too.
The Chinese State is not secular. Its athiest, but permits some religion on the basis of ‘minorityu culture’ that are monitored by the Police. China definately doesn’t separate church and state. How about permitting only Chinese State sanctioned Catholic Bishops? (Which is why the Vatican has no diplomatic relations) An imposition of a false Panchen Lama? The represession of the Falun Gong? All actions commanded by the Chinese State. Mr. Granados doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
r v says
The Chinese state is secular, in that it clamps down proportionally to religious incursion into the political sphere.
Chinese state sanctioned Catholic Bishops is a response to Vatican’s support for ROC in Taiwan.
The State controlled selection process of religious leaders, (or simple approval process) is a necessary process to prevent religious incursion into politics.
Perhaps that is different type of “separation of Church and State” than in the West, but its aim is precisely to separate religion from politics, NOT to control religion. The Chinese government has ZERO interest in establishing itself as some kind of Church.
“The Chinese government has ZERO interest in establishing itself as some kind of Church.”
Try justifying THAT when your little religious group starts to attract a decent number of followers and you’ll soon find out what challenging the popularity of the “church” of China’s Communist Party feels like. You’re naieve, dangerous, and you don’t live in China, do you?
r v says
What’s a “decent number”? It’s any wonder China has any church at all, according to you.
News flash, plenty of temples and churches in China, and people going to them. I have been to several of them in China.
You know why I didn’t get arrested? Maybe it’s because I didn’t set myself on fire (or blow myself up) for some “religions”.
@Wombadan (er, Wangbadan)
You mean you are naive and dangerous yourself for getting bunch of fools to go and challenge the CCP? The Chinese people are supportive of the party and the government. Did you forget to register your “church” too? That’d be breaking Chinese laws in case you don’t know yet. Did you get some fools to go to jail? Funny you are not.
A lot of what Granados writes in Part 2 resonates with me. I have written much of what is said in comments, but not all together in one post.
In particular, I subscribe to the notion that separation of church and state means gov’t does not preach religion and religion does not play politics. I also subscribe to the notion that when government and state conflicts, it is because one (or both) is reaching into the domain of the other.
In India, when a clash between religion and government occurs, there is equal chance that religion or government is at fault. Many times, religious people do foment political actions; but in a state like India, where many gov’t officials are religious or have support of religious people, government people also preach (or at least favor) specific religions.
In China, when a clash between religion and government occurs, it is almost always inevitably a case of religious people overstepping into the domain of politics. It cannot be otherwise. As many have observed, the CCP is atheist. It frankly does not care about religion unless when religion plays politics. Ten million religious fanatics can let out a collective fart if they want, the gov’t would not give a damn (unless the farting is somehow about politics, I suppose).
Of course there is always a public policy component that sometimes do involve some balance. Should parents have the right to starve their children in the name of religion? Should parents have the right to take their children off public education in the name of religion? Should parents have the right to refuse medical care for their children in the name of religion? Should parents be allowed to abuse girls in the name of religion? Should husbands be allowed to abuse women in the name of religion?
Even if you don’t like the balance ultimately struck by the Chinese gov’t, you have to see that it is a balance and that even if reasonable people may disagree over the balance, it does not mean there is no “freedom” of religion.
r v says
Should a priest be allowed to abuse children? (Let’s face it, the West’s tiptoeing around the Vatican essentially gave child molesters decades of opportunities to do evil.)
Should a pastor be allowed to burn the Quran (for his version of God)?
r v says
I don’t believe religious people are particularly more fanatical than atheists.
But at least when atheists do evil things, they don’t have any gods to justify their actions as divinely righteous.
r v says
Another advantage about being an Atheist:
I don’t have a Holy Book for someone else to burn. So I won’t get crazy mad in response to any crazy book burnings. And I also won’t get offended by any other “blasphemies,” such as cartooning a holy prophet, women not wearing veils, etc.
Obviously, I have much fewer things to get me upset, and I’m much less likely to participate in any kind of religious protests.
I’m not saying atheists are superior, just that we have fewer buttons to be pushed by others.
I wonder just which buttons will turn rv ballistic? (*-*)
China has hundreds of millions of atheists but- according to biased Western media anyway – the levers are triggered off by myriads of provocations: Sharon Stone talking about karma, South Korea purloining China’s traditional heritage, France flogging stolen cultural relics, etc. Some reactions are justified, not all.
Islam is particularly fragile, and Muslims sensitive, for historic and economic reasons.
The colonialists, mainly the British, used religious leaders to maintain crowd control (religion as opiate of the masses); the system continues to exist in some countries where govts and rulers justify their role as defenders of the faith.
It is easy to politicize religion among people whose raison d’etre is God; especially in west and south Asia, the Islamic identity is deeply rooted against the Western attempt to impose its values system via a proxy state and the continuing injustices inflicted upon Muslim countries.
r v says
The extent of my going “ballistic” is about as dangerous as a handful of bad puns and small sarcasms.
Of course, to some, puns and sarcasms can be quite dangerous.
@r v, raffiaflower,
I actually think the “button to push” issue is irrelevant. Regardless of whether I am religious or not, I believe being religious is a natural – perhaps even important – part of the human experience (so much of things in the world is outside our control, sometimes religion does seem to be the best way of making sense of it all). For us to have purpose, an important part is believing in something bigger than ourselves. Something that even if we as individual cannot accomplish, we can help others to accomplish.
Malcolm Gladwell’s once said that a moral to his book Tipping Point is that while history may be driven by the “truly outliers” in our society, and while becoming an outlier is beyond anyone’s capacity (a confluence of fortune, hardwork, luck, history, timing must be involved to create an outlier among us), no outlier becomes an outlier by themselves. Every outlier’s success is the work of many others. In a way, we are all connected, we all contribute in our own – even if anonymous – way.
The namesake of our sibling foolsmountain derives from that same theme. We will attempt to create an understanding between East and West – in our own small, anonymous way. So to believe something big beyond us is commendable, in my opinion.
Being religious – believing in a God that is beyond petty human trifling or even history – is in my opinion also commendable. The thing I am against religion is intolerance – which is not necessarily limited to religion: the zeal to wage a crusade – to use war to destroy other traditions – the uncaring disregard of lives for people of different nations.
So I feel we need to be sensitive to the fact that some people feel that burning of the Koran in a very emotional, direct way. We should not petty that. If it is that important to them, it should be important to us too.
r v says
Allen, I bet a small distinction between “religion” and “spirituality,” that being an individual can be spiritual without belonging to a religion. (Religion being organized).
Blame on human societies, we often turn benign doctrines into Wars over interpretations.
Even atheists and agnostics can be “spiritual”, over the greater purpose of humanity, unburdened by organized religions’ dogmatic teachings and crusades over minor differences.
I mean, before (and around the same time) the wars between the Muslims and the Christians, Christians were busy burning each other (Protestants vs. Catholics). And before that, the Christians were persecuted.