Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ancient religious beliefs and practices persist among China's officially atheistic Communist leaders

As reported by Lu Chen of The Epoch Times, May 16, 2014:

It was par for the course that Li Chuncheng, the former deputy Party Secretary of Sichuan Province, would have been accused of "using his official position to gain benefits for others," as well as "accepting huge bribes." But what about "abusing his position to engage in feudal superstitious activities"?

That rare accusation was made public recently in the announcement of the official political takedown of Li, a top provincial Party official and ally to the former security czar Zhou Yongkang.

The charges, made by the Central Discipline and Inspection Commission last month, threw an unwelcome spotlight on a problem that, officially, should not exist: supposedly atheist communist Party officials engaging in "superstitious" beliefs and practices that the Party all but stamped out over decades of furious political campaigns.

Stories abound in Chines media of officials hiring Taoist masters to perform exorcisms, conduct spiritual ceremonies, or hold fortune-telling sessions. Li Chuncheng was said to be obsessed with such activities.

A favourite among communist cadres is hiring masters of feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of geomancy, to orient buildings in favourable ways. Sometimes the construction of government offices in accordance with these principles can cost the taxpayer dearly.

Li once spent more than 10 million yuan (C $1.8 million) to hire a feng shui master to perform a ceremony to save the souls of the dead, when he relocated his ancestors' tombs. The money consisted of government funds and money he received in bribes, according to the Chinese media Caixin.

Li also hired Taoists to perform exorcisms after a series of accidents happened at a building project in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, according to China Business News.

In China's political circles, officials obsessed with fortune-telling and using feng shui are not a minority: promotions, political power, and money are all on the line.

A report by Cheng Ping, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance, shows that more than half of the 900 county-level civil servants working for the government believe in face reading, fortune-telling, astrology, and feng shui, according to party mouthpiece Xinhua News.

The abundance of these activities is ironic given how the Communist Party has always strictly upheld atheism, and prohibited Party members from being involved in any religion.

"A Communist Party member is not a regular citizen, but a member of the Marxist Party, an absolute atheist. Communist Party members can not have religious beliefs and cannot participate in any religious activities. Whoever insists on doing so without changing his attitude must quit the party," says the regime's United Front Work Department on its website outlining the rules for Party members.

But Chinese traditional beliefs, including Buddhism and Taoism, have been part of China's folk traditions for thousands of years--far longer than the party's mere 65 years of rule.

Campaigns like the Great Cultural Revolution, that lasted from 1966 to 1976, sought in an unprecedented way to completely eradicate religion and traditional practices in China. Party leader Mao Zedong called for destroying the "Four Olds," referring to "old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits." Numerous temples, statues, and religious books were violently destroyed.

A political mobilization of similar fereocity struck China in 1999 under the leadership of Jiang Zemin, the Party chief at the time, as he sought to eradicate the practice of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline rooted in China's ancient traditions.
And as reported by Lu Chen in The Epoch Times, February 5, 2015:

...According to a Feb. 4 commentary published in regime mouthpiece People’s Daily, some communist leaders “consult neither Marx nor Lenin, but instead various ‘masters'” when they face challenges in their lives and careers.

The article criticized Party functionaries for seeking their solutions in the supernatural, accusing them of “confused faith and demoralized spirit.”

“Such phenomena cannot be ignored. Some leaders and cadres are obsessed with burning incense, prayers, and engaging in Feng Shui. Their offices are littered with ‘auspicious stones’ and piles of fortune beads.”

Feng Shui, also known as geomancy, is the ancient tradition of orienting objects such as buildings, furniture, or plants in a spiritually harmonious or auspicious manner.

Though the Communist Party promotes atheism and materialism through state propaganda and education, “superstitious” activities are commonplace in the Party itself.

Li Chuncheng, disgraced former deputy Party head of Sichuan Province, spent tens of millions in public funds to have a Daoist master hold an exorcism for him, according to a report by regime mouthpiece Xinhua.

Zhou Yongkang, who formerly headed China’s vast internal security forces, had his own personal Feng Shui master, Cao Yongzheng, who was also his “most trusted man,” according to the mainland Chinese magazine Caixin. Zhou is now under official investigation, allegedly for corruption and misuse use of power.

Other officials consult experts to help them determine the lucky days on which to begin and conclude their projects.

The Communist Party bars its officials from holding religious beliefs.

“Such superstitious trends have long been denounced,” reads the People’s Daily commentary. “Party cadres ought to be clear on matters of faith.”

The rampant practice of so-called superstitious activity in the communist elite reflects the emptiness of Marxist ideology, according to political commentator Zhang Dongyuan, speaking to the Epoch Times.

After dozens of years of atheist propaganda and indoctrination, not only did the people refuse to abandon their faith, but huge damage was wrought upon traditional Chinese society and culture, Zhang said. Chinese officials profess the tenets of Marxism-Leninism only to advance their careers, but few if any have true faith in communism.

“It’s failed completely,” Zhang said.

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