The communist government of China has introduced an online database and verification system aimed at Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant clerics, with the stated purpose of addressing instances of fraudulent individuals posing as clerics. A similar database was also established for Buddhist and Taoist clergy (monks) in February. According to the authorities, this database serves as the official registry for religious figures within their respective religious communities. It is accessible to citizens who wish to verify the identity and status of registered individuals and comprises seven categories of information, including name, gender, religious title, religious affiliation, and registration number.
Union of Catholic Asian News reports:
China’s communist government has launched an online database and verification system for Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant clerics, which the authorities claim seeks to tackle acts of fraudulence by ‘fake clerics.’
The system consisting of an online database with vital information on the clergy was launched on May 23, the Vatican’s Fides news agency reported.
A similar database has been launched for Buddhist and Taoist clergy (monks) in February.
The government says the database is the official register of religious figures from religious communities. It can be accessed by citizens to verify the identity and position of the registered individuals.
It contains seven types of information including name, gender, photos, religious title, religious denomination, and registration number.
Fides reported that the database can be updated from time to time by state-sanctioned religious bodies such as the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Islamic Association of China, and the State Administration of Religious Affairs, the apex body of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tasked to oversee religious affairs.
State-run Xinhua news agency reported this new online database is a useful tool for maintaining normal religious order, safeguarding healthy transmission of religious content.
Concerns have been raised by rights groups, including ChinaAid based in the United States, regarding the implications of this action, suggesting that it represents another effort by the Chinese government to tighten its grip on religious practices and religious communities within China.
Rights groups, such as US-based ChinaAid, expressed concerns that the move is another attempt to assert more control over religions and religious groups in China.
The communist and officially atheist state legally recognizes five organized religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
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