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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 09, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Apr00

Summarized by Jennifer Livingston

LDS Law Professor Urges China To Tolerate Religion
Deseret News 7Apr00 N2
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a letter addressed to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, top religious freedom monitor Michael Young joined colleague David Saperstein in calling upon China to abandon recent steps toward restricting religious freedom. Young and Saperstein serve as vice chairman and chairman, respectively, of the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom. Young's former positions include stake president of the New York, New York LDS stake, Columbia University professor of law, and Bush administration State Department official. Young is currently Dean of the Georgetown University Law School.

"Chinese authorities have tightened the already narrow circle within which religious adherents may practice their religions," stated Young and Saperstein in written testimony to the Caucus. "Chinese authorities view the ongoing explosion of religious activity as a threat to social stability."

The United Nations sets forth in both the U.N. International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a policy of "freedom of speech, assembly, association and religious exercise" which has been violated of late by Chinese leaders. Young and Saperstein urged China to begin living in accordance with U.N. standards. According to Young and Saperstein, Chinese officials have begun to interfere with the five religions currently recognized within the country -- Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism. In two instances, political leaders have sought to impose their own selected leaders as replacements for those selected by leadership within the faith. In addition, many members of unregistered religions have faced increased persecution. Such persecution ranges from temporary detainment and arrest to "re-education," torture, and even death.

Young and Saperstein suggest these actions represent China's attempt to control religion, which the Chinese believe to conflict with the Marxist "scientific" world view. They suggest that the Chinese believe "when societal conditions improve, religion will whither away," and that "Until that time it is tolerated as, they believe, an imperfect component of the initial stage of socialism but must also be controlled by the state to serve the goals of socialism."


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