Translation:Regulations on Religious Affairs (PRC)

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Regulations on Religious Affairs of the PRC(宗教事务条例)  (2004) 
State Council of the PRC, translated from Chinese by Wikisource


<<Regulations on Religious Affairs>>

State Council of the People's Republic of China order number 426

<<Regulations on Religious Affairs>> was passed on July 7th 2004 by the fifty-seventh standing committee of the State Council, it is hereby promulgated and it shall enter into force on March 1st 2005.

Premier Wen Jiabao

November 30th 2004


Chapter 1 - General Principles

Article 1 - In order to protect the religious freedom of citizens, maintain religious harmony in accord with social harmony, within the supervision of religious affairs, in accordance with the constitution and related laws, these regulations are hereby set.


Article 2 - Citizens have freedom of faith and religion

No organization or individual may force a citizen to accept or not accept a religious faith, discriminate against a citizen with religious beliefs (hereafter referred to as believing citizens) or a citizen without religious beliefs (hereafter referred to as non-believing citizens)

Believing citizens and non-believing citizens, as well as citizens with different religions should show mutual respect, and live together harmoniously.


Article 3 - in accordance with the law, the state protects normal religious activities, defends religious groups, religious activity centres and the legal rights of believing citizens.

Religious groups, religious activity centres and believing citizens should observe the constitution, laws, rules and ordinances, maintain national unity, ethnic unity and social stability.

No organization or individual may use religion to make an attack on the order of society, harm the physical health of citizens, impede the activities of the state's education system, or make other forms of harm against the interests of the state, the interests of public society, or the legal rights of citizens.


Article 4 - Each religion must maintain a principle of self-independence and self-governance, religious groups, religious activity centres and religious affairs shall not be subject to the power of foreign domination.

Religious groups, religious activity centres, and religious ministers on the basis of friendship and equality, may engage in foreign relationships; other organizations or individuals involved in foreign economic, cultural or other such kinds of cooperation, within the confines of the relationships may not accept any extra religious conditions within the exchange.


Article 5 - County-level or higher People's government's religious affairs departments legally supervise religious affairs that relate to the interests of the state or society, other related county-level or higher People's government's departments within each department's proper jurisdiction legally executes related supervision.

Each level of the People's government should listen to the views of religious groups, religious activity centres and believing citizens, while coordinating the management of religious affairs.


Chapter 2 - Religious Groups

Article 6 - The establishment, alteration or cancellation of religious groups shall be handled in accordance with the <<Regulations on Administration and Registration of Social Groups>>

The statutes of religious groups should conform with the relevant rules of the <<Regulations on Administration and Registration of Social Groups>>.

Religious groups that conduct activities in accordance with the statutes, are protected by the law.


Article 7 – Religious groups can print publications for internal use in accordance with relevant national laws. Public publishing of religious publications, shall be handled in accordance with the national administrative rules on publishing.

With regard to internal religious publications, it should be kept in accordance with the rules from the <<Administrative Regulations on Publishing>> , and the materials should not include the following content (1) Content that destroys the harmony between believing citizens and non-believing citizens; (2) Content that destroys the harmony between believing citizens of different religions, or between believing citizens within the same religion; (3) Prejudiced or insulting content against believing citizens or non-believing citizens ; (4) Content that propagates religious extremism; (5) Content that violates the rules on religious autonomy.


Article 8 - Setting up a religious school, should be done by a national religious body through application to the State Council’s Religious Affairs Department, or by a provincial, autonomous regional, or directly-administered municipal religious group through an application to the provincial, autonomous regional or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s department of religious affairs of the place wherein the religious school shall be set up. If approved, then it shall be submitted to the State Council’s Religious Affairs Department for examination and verification.

The State Council’s Religious Affairs Department, when it has received an application from a national religious body, or from a provincial, autonomous regional or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s department of religious affairs, it shall give a decision of approval or denial of approval within 60 days of reception of the application.


Article 9 – In setting up a religious school, the following conditions should be met: (1) There is clear training objectives, curriculum and curriculum planning; (2) There are students who meet the conditions for training; (3) There are sufficient funds and stable sources of funding; (4) There are sufficient locations, facilities and equipment in order to carry out the teaching tasks with regard to the school’s size. (5) There are full-time school staff, qualified teachers and an internal management organization; (6) There is an appropriate setup


Article 10 – National religious bodies may, with regard to the needs of the religion and in accordance with rules, send out and receive overseas religious students.


Article 11 – Chinese citizens with Islamic faith going abroad for pilgrimage, shall be managed by the national Islamic association.


Chapter 3 – Religious Activity Centres

Article 12 – Collective religious activities of believing citizens, in general should be held in the registered religious activity centre (Buddhist temple, Taoist temple, mosque, church and other fixed religious activity centres), under the management of the religious activity centre or the religious organization, conducted by the religious ministers or others who meet the relevant rules of the religion, and done in accordance with the religious creeds and canons.


Article 13 – In order to establish a religious activity centre, the religious group shall make an application to the county-level People’s government’s religious affairs department of the place in which the religious activity centre is to be set up. The county-level People’s government’s religious affairs department within 30 days of the reception of the application, if approval is given, shall submit it to the area’s city-level People’s government’s religious affairs department for examination and verification.

The area’s city-level People’s government’s religious affairs department within 30 days of reception of the application from the national-level People’s government religious affairs department, if approval is given to establish a temple, Taoist temple, mosque, church, shall conduct an audit and present it to the provincial, autonomous regional or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s religious affairs department for examination and verification; with regard to the establishment of a fixed religious activity centre, it shall grant a decision of approval or disapproval.

Provincial, autonomous regional, and directly-administered municipal People’s government religious affairs departments should give a decision of approval or disapproval within 30 days of reception of the approval for a temple, Taoist temple, mosque or church from the area’s city-level People’s government religious affairs department.

Religious groups may make preparation for construction of the religious activity centre after they have received approval for setting up the religious activity centre.


Article 14 – In setting up a religious activity centre, the following conditions should be met

(1) The purpose of establishment should not violate articles three or four of these regulations; (2) The local believing citizens have a need to frequently engage in collective religious activities; (3) There are religious ministers or others present who meet the requirements of the religion, who will conduct the religious activities; (4) There are sufficient funds; (5) There is an appropriate setup, which does not pose an obstacle to the normal life or commerce of the surroundings citizens and employers.


Article 15 – After the religious activity centre has received permission and has completed construction, it should apply for registration at the local county-level People’s government’s religious affairs department. The local county-level People’s government’s religious affairs department, within 30 days of reception of application, should examine and verify the managing organization, the construction of rules and regulations as well as other issues. If the conditions are met, it shall register the place and issue a <<Religious Activity Centre License of Registration>>.


Article 16 – If the religious activity centre undergoes a merger, a division, a closing or other changes to the registered information, a procedure to change the relevant contents of the registered information should be conducted at the original registering body.


Article 17 – The religious activity centre should set up a managing organization, which should be democratically run. The members of the managing organization of the religious activity centre, should be elected through democratic negotiation, and they should be recorded at the registering body that registered the centre.


Article 18 – The religious activity centres should strengthen internal management. In accordance with relevant laws, regulations and statutes, it shall establish good staff, finances, accounting, security, fire protection, preservation of cultural relics, sanitation and disease prevention management systems, and it shall receive direction, supervision and examination from the local People’s government departments.


Article 19 – The religious affairs department, with regard to the religious activity centre, should observe the laws, regulations and statutes, and it should erect and execute a supervisory system for the centre, conduct registration and changes to registration, as well as carry out supervision and examination of situations involving religious activities linked together with foreign activities. The religious activity centre should accept supervision and examination from the religious affairs department.


Article 20 – The religious activity centre may receive donations in accordance with religious customs, but it may not force or apply quotas to donations. Non-religious groups, non-religious activity centres may not organize and carry out religious activities, and they may not receive religious donations.


Article 21 – The religious activity centre may carry out the selling of religious products, religious artwork or religious publications.

A temple, Taoist temple, mosque or church (hereafter referred to as ‘mosque-temple-church’) that has gone through registration as a religious activity centre may, in accordance with national rules, print internal religious publications.


Article 22 – Inter-provincial, inter-autonomous regional, or inter-directly-administered municipal large-scale religious activities that are conducted, which exceed the capacity of a religious activity centre, or large-scale religious activities that are conducted outside of a religious activity centre, should have an application made for them by the religious body or mosque-temple-church conducting them 30 days prior to the event taking place. The application should be made to the provincial, autonomous regional or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s religious affairs department, in which the large-scale activity is to take place. The provincial, autonomous regional or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s religious affairs department should make a decision of approval or rejection of approval within 15 days of reception of the application.

The large-scale religious activity should carry out religious rituals in accordance with the clear requirements set out in the approval letter, and it should not violate the rules within articles three or four of these regulations. The religious group or mosque-temple-church, which is carrying out the activity should take effective preparation to prevent accidents from occurring. The village or town’s People’s government in which the event is taking place, and the county-level or higher People's government's relevant departments, in accordance with their individual responsibilities, should provide necessary supervision, as well as protect the safety and order of the large-scale religious activity.


Article 23 – The religious activity centre should be on guard against serious accidents that occur in the centre, things that violate religious taboos and harm the religious feelings of believing citizens, things that harm ethnic unity, as well as things that influence social stability.

If such an accident or incident occurs, as mentioned in the preceding list, the religious activity centre should immediately make a report to the county-level People’s government’s religious affairs department, for the area in which the religious activity centre is located.


Article 24 – A religious group or mosque-temple-church that intends to erect a large-scale open-air religious statue outside of the religious activity centre, should have an application made by the provincial, autonomous regional, or directly-administered municipal religious organization to the provincial, autonomous regional, or directly-administered municipal People’s government’s religious affairs department. A report should be given to the State Council’s religious affairs department for approval.

The State Council’s religious affairs department should make a decision of approval or denial of approval, within 60 days of reception of the application for the erection of the large-scale open-air religious statue outside of the religious activity centre.

Organizations or individuals other than religious groups or mosque-temple-churches may not erect large-scale open-air religious statues.


Article 25 – Relevant employers or individuals that do renovations or new constructions within religious activity centres, that establish service websites for commercial purposes, hold displays or exhibitions, produce movies or television episodes, should first receive approval from the religious activity centre and the county-level or higher People's government religious affairs department of the place.


Article 26 - With regard to religious activity centres that form major scenic landmarks for tourism, the county-level or higher People's government should negotiate and solve issues dealing with the relevant interests of the religious activity centre and scenery, cultural heritage, tourism and other aspects. The legal rights of the religious activity centre must be protected.

The planning and construction of major scenic landmarks for tourism that employ the religious activity centre as a key attraction, should be done in coordination with the style and environment of the religious activity centre.


Chapter 4 – Religious Ministers

Article 27 – Religious ministers that are approved by the religious group, shall be reported to the county-level or higher People's government's religious affairs department, and then they may work in religious affairs and activities.

The succession of living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism, shall be handled in accordance with religious rituals and historical custom, under the guidance of the Buddhist association, and with the approval of the city-level or higher People’s government’s religious affairs department of the area or the city-level or higher People’s government of the area. Catholic bishops shall be reported to the State Council’s religious affairs department by the national Catholic association.


Article 28 – Religious ministers that take over or resign from the positions of main minister at a religious activity centre, once approval has been given by the religious association for the respective religion, shall be reported to the county-level or higher People's government's religious affairs department.


Article 29 – Religious ministers have the lawful right to carry out religious activities, hold religious ceremonies, work in the arranging of religious scriptures, engage in studies of religious culture and other such activities.


Chapter 5 – Religious Property

Article 30 – A religious group or a religious activity centre possesses a lawful right to legally possess the land they use, to legally possess or use buildings, structures, facilities, as well as other kinds of legal property or proceeds.

No organization or individual may take over, plunder, privately divide, deface or illegally demolish, seize, freeze, expropriate, punish the religious group, or punish the religious activity centre’s lawful property; no one may destroy the cultural religious property used by a religious group or a religious activity centre.


Article 31- The buildings and land used by a religious group or a religious activity centre, should have an application for legal registration made for them to the county-level or higher People’s government real estate or land management departments, to receive a certificate of ownership or a certificate of right of use; if the property rights are changed, the procedures for changing the registration should be done in a timely manner.

The land management department, when it is making a decision to allow the use of land by a religious group or a religious activity centre, should seek the counsel of the People’s government’s religious affairs department at the same governing level.


Article 32 – A religious activity centre’s buildings or structures that are used for religious activities, or nearby housing that is used for religious ministers, may not be transferred to others, mortgaged or used as a physical investment.


Article 33- In the event that urban planning or major construction projects require a demolition of the buildings or structures used by a religious group or a religious activity centre, the demolishing party should conduct negotiations with the religious group or the religious activity centre, and it should also ask for the counsel of the relevant religious affairs department. Through consultations including each party that agreed to the demolition, the demolishing party should rebuild the demolished building or structure, or it may, in accordance with national rules, give monetary compensation for the destroyed building or structure that is calculated at market rates.


Article 34 – A religious group or religious activity centre may legally conduct social service work, the proceeds and other lawful income should be managed by finances and accounting, and used within the religious group’s or religious activity centre’s activities that conform to their purpose as well as for social welfare.


Article 35 – Religious groups and religious activity centres may, in accordance with national rules, receive donations from domestic or foreign individuals and organizations, to be used for activities that conform to the purposes of the religious group or religious activity centre.


Article 36 – Religious groups and religious activity centres should fulfill duties given by the national financial, accounting or tax systems. In accordance with national tax rules, they shall enjoy preferential tax exemptions.

Religious groups or religious activity centres should make a report to the county-level or higher People’s government’s religious affairs department of the condition of financial incomes and expenses, as well as the reception and usage of donations. They shall also use an appropriate method to inform the believing citizens.


Article 37 – In the event that a religious group or a religious activity centre is to be disbanded or discontinued, there should be a settling of property accounts, after the settlement is made, the remaining property should be used for things that conform to the purposes of the religious group or the religious activity centre.


Chapter 6 – Legal Liability

Article 38 – National employees who work in the religious affairs department that abuse their positions, ignore their duties, play favouritism and commit irregularities, and are liable for criminal charges, shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law; those that have not committed things that are not liable to criminal charges, shall be given a legal administrative sanction.


Article 39 – Forcing citizens to believe or not believe in a religion, or disturbing the normal religious activities of a religious group or religious activity centre, shall receive correction from the religious affairs department; those that violate orders from the public security administration, shall be given a legal punishment from the public security administration. Whoever infringes on the legal rights of religious groups, religious activity centres or believing citizens, shall bear civil liability in accordance with the law; those that are liable to criminal charges, shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law.


Article 40 – Anyone using a religion to harm national security or public safety, violate civil rights or democratic rights, disrupt social order, engage in illegal activities that infringe upon public or private property rights, and thus incurring criminal charges, shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law; those that do not incur criminal charges, shall receive an administrative sanction from the relevant supervisory organ. Those who cause losses to citizens, legal persons or other organizations, shall bear civil liability under the law.

During the course of large-scale religious activities, if there is a situation that occurs which harms public safety or seriously hurts social order, in accordance with laws and administrative regulations dealing with collective demonstrations and displays, then it shall be dealt with by on-site disposing and punishment; the religious group or mosque-temple church that manages the event holds responsibility, and the organ that it is registered with shall then cancel its registration.

The holding of unauthorized large-scale religious activities, shall be stopped by the religious affairs department; if there are illegal gains made, then the gains shall be confiscated, and there may be a fine given that is from one to three times the amount of the illegal gains; the registering body that registers the religious group or religious activity centre that holds the unauthorized large-scale event, may order the dismissal and replacement of the person directly-responsible in the religious group or religious activity centre.


Article 41- If a religious group or a religious activity centre has one of the following behaviours, it will be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to make a correction; if the circumstances are relatively serious, it will be the responsibility of the registering organ to make the religious group or religious activity centre to replace the supervising person who is directly responsible; if the circumstances are gravely serious, it will be the responsibility of the registering organ to cancel the registration of the religious group or the religious activity centre; if there is illegal property, it will be confiscated: (1) Failing to handle changes of registration or filing procedures according to the rules; (2) The religious activity centre violated article 18 of these regulations, in that it did not erect a relevant supervisory system or the supervisory system did not adhere to requirements; (3) There is a serious accident that occurs in a religious activity centre, the serious incident was not reported in a timely manner, and there were major consequences that occurred as a result; (4) There was a violation of article 4 of these regulations, in that there was a breach of the rules concerning religious autonomy; (5) There was a violation of relevant national laws concerning the reception of donations from domestic or foreign sources; (6) There is a refusal to accept the lawful execution of supervision and management from the registering organ.


Article 42 – In relation to publications with religious content that holds content forbidden under article 7- section 2 of these regulations, it will be the responsibility of the relevant supervisory organ to give legal punishment to the employer or employee responsible; cases that are liable to criminal charges, shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law.


Article 43 – Unauthorized establishment of a religious activity centre, the continued holding of religious activities in a religious activity centre that has already had its registration cancelled, or the unauthorized establishment of a religious school, will be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to eliminate and confiscate illegal gains that were made; illegal houses or structures, shall be lawfully dealt with by the construction supervision department ; acts that violate orders from the public security administration, shall be given a legal punishment from the public security administration.

Non-religious groups or non-religious activity centre organizations, which conduct religious activities, and receive religious donations, shall be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to end their activities; if illegal gains are made, then the illegal gains shall be confiscated; in serious situations, there may be a fine given that is from one to three times the amount of the illegal gains.

Unauthorized organizing of believing citizens to go abroad for pilgrimage, shall be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to end their activities; if there are illegal gains made, then the illegal gains shall be confiscated, and there may be a fine given that is from one to three times the amount of the illegal gains.


Article 44 – Erecting a large-scale open-air religious statue in violation of these regulations, shall be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to stop the work, and conduct a demolition within a certain timeframe; if there are illegal gains made, then the gains shall be confiscated.


Article 45 – Religious ministers within the context of religious affairs and activities who violate laws, regulations or statutes, besides legally investigating the legal liabilities, the religious affairs department shall suggest to the religious group to cancel the employment identity of the religious minister.

Fake religious ministers that conduct religious activities, shall be the responsibility of the religious affairs department to stop the activities; if there are illegal gains, then the illegal gains shall be confiscated; those that violate orders from the public security administration, shall be given a legal punishment from the public security administration; those that are liable to criminal charges, shall be investigated and dealt with in accordance with the law.


Article 46 – If there is a refusal to accept a certain administrative act from the religious affairs department, then there can be made a legal application to have an administrative reconsideration; if there is a refusal to accept an administrative reconsideration, then an administrative lawsuit can be made in accordance with the law.


Chapter 7 – Supplementary

Article 47 – Religious relations conducted between the mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, shall be conducted in accordance with the law, executive rules and relevant national regulations.


Article 48 – These regulations enter into force on March 1st 2005. At the same time, they cancel and replace the <<Religious Activity Centre Supervisory Regulations>> from the State Council given on January 31st 1994.


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