Re­li­gious venues ver­i­fied to stop il­le­gal prof­i­teer­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By AN BAIJIE

an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for Re­li­gious Af­fairs pub­lished the names and lo­ca­tions of 6,195 ver­i­fied Bud­dhist and Taoist monas­ter­ies on Thurs­day in an ef­fort to fight il­le­gal prof­its dis­guised as re­li­gion.

The in­for­ma­tion was posted on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s web­site, where users can type in the name of a monastery to con­firm its sta­tus.

Some non­re­li­gious venues have em­ployed fake monks and Taoists to ac­cept do­na­tions from be­liev­ers and tourists, and some of them even bad­gered tourists for money, said Liu Jin­guang, spokesman for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Liu said at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day that the move is aimed at fight­ing il­le­gal prof­i­teer­ing.

The ver­i­fied monas­ter­ies are lo­cated in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Shan­dong and Zhe­jiang prov­inces, while in­for­ma­tion about re­li­gious venues in other prov­inces will be pub­li­cized af­ter the au­thor­i­ties have sorted them, Liu said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion is pre­par­ing for re­vi­sions to the Reg­u­la­tion on Re­li­gious Af­fairs, which was is­sued by the State Coun­cil a decade ago. The ad­min­is­tra­tion will sug­gest that law­mak­ers make de­tailed rules pro­hibit­ing prof­i­teer­ing in the name of re­li­gion, he said.

Cur­rent law pro­hibits prof­its from re­li­gious ac­tiv­i­ties, as well as con­tracts be­tween re­li­gious monas­ter­ies and com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to a guide­line is­sued in Oc­to­ber 2012 by 10 ad­min­is­tra­tions and min­istries, in­clud­ing the re­li­gious af­fairs ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tourism.

Some of the tourists and re­li­gious be­liev­ers are lob­bied — and some­times even in­tim­i­dated — as fake prac­ti­tion­ers pro­mote the sale of ex­pen­sive in­cense to vis­i­tors at tem­ples in scenic spots, the guide­line says.

On Thurs­day, the re­li­gious af­fairs ad­min­is­tra­tion pub­li­cized 10 typ­i­cal cases of il­le­gal prof­its dis­guised as re­li­gion.

In one case, Xi­uzhen­guan, a Taoist tem­ple in Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, was found to have been con­tracted to a busi­ness­man, who hired fake Taoists to make prof­its through il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing for­tune-telling and the sales of ex­pen­sive in­cense and sou­venirs.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion urged the lo­cal govern­ment to ad­dress the is­sue af­ter a news re­port ex­posed prob­lems in De­cem­ber 2012. The busi­ness­man who con­tracted the tem­ple was pun­ished.

Wang Lei, an ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, said that some profit-driven govern­ment bod­ies have ex­ces­sively ex­ploited many re­li­gious venues and use the monas­ter­ies to pad the govern­ment’s cof­fers.

Of­fi­cials should give up that idea, Wang said.

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