The suppression directly affects the foundation of one of the “three teachings” of traditional Chinese spirituality and religion, along with Confucianism and Buddhism.
As Bitter Winter has previously reported, authorities have damaged and destroyed statues of Laozi, who is considered to be the founder of Daoism. Multiple Daoist temples across regions are being cracked down on, with authorities banning religious activities, like the burning of incense.
Hin Temple, a Daoist temple in Fang county, under the jurisdiction of Shiyan city in central Hubei Province, is among them.
Even though the Hin Temple was designated, by government approval in December 1993, a major historical and cultural site, protected at the provincial level. As a result, its religious activities have always thrived, and the site saw thousands of visitors daily.
But now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has decided it’s over this. On September 20, 2018, the Fang county government convened a meeting in which they said burning incense for prayer is a superstitious activity that pollutes the environment and called for it to end. Authorities even ordered the head of the Hin Temple to purge the temple of all articles related to religious activities and forbade Daoist priests from wearing their attire.
The Daoist priests were forced to acquiesce. The head of the temple expressed that the priests who had considered the temple their home for decades felt dispirited and left; those who have remained behind have become the temple’s custodians, guarding the place.
A county official said the temple crackdown movement is similar to the Cultural Revolution, and that authorities are relying on units, including Religious Affairs Bureau, People’s Procuratorate, Organization Department and Public Security Bureau to enforce it. If Daoist government officials are discovered burning incense, they will be handed over to the Organization Department – civilians caught burning incense will be turned over to the Public Security Bureau.
“The Communist Party is just a revolutionary party. If anyone doesn’t listen to them, they’ll ‘revolutionize’ them,” one Daoist pilgrim said. “Who would dare not to obey?”
In Gaolan county, under the jurisdiction of Lanzhou city, in China’s northwest Gansu Province, the Baiyi Temple has also faced similar persecution.
Under the pretext of “promotion of folk construction and the elimination of outmoded conventions,” authorities in October 2018 ordered the head of Baiyi Temple to lock up the main hall of the temple and hand over the keys,” an inside source said.
Now, the temple is prohibited from admitting strangers, who are effectively banned from practicing their religion, meaning they can’t burn incense and joss paper offerings, chant scripture or light candles. Adding insult to injury: The temples are being forced to hang up portraits of Mao Zedong and the national flag while being forced to install surveillance cameras.
The same crackdown on Daoist temples is spreading across central Henan Province. In September 2018, a government official from Cijian town, a division of Xin’an county under the jurisdiction of Henan’s Luoyang city, informed the head priests of four local temples, including the Founding Father’s Temple and Jade Emperor Temple, that the town had convened and decided they wouldn’t be allowed to burn incense anymore; the official also ordered the head priests to hand over the keys to their temples within three days.
Coerced by government pressure, the head priests helplessly handed over their keys, and, in accordance with the government’s demands, took down their temple signboards, destroyed their incense burners, took down their Daoist flags and in its place raised the national flag.
Reported by Cai Congxin / Bitter Winter