By drawing on some ideas from once-decried Confucianism, the Chinese state may actually delay religious freedom for all, writes Magda Hornemann in an article published on June 21 by Forum 18 News Service, an independent Christian news service reporting on religious freedom. Confucianism has made a comeback in recent years. Faced with declining credibility of Communist ideology, the Chinese government hopes that the philosophy can provide inspiration for solving various social problems, and some have gone as far as to advocate Confucianism as a state religion for countering imported faiths. Confucianism is primarily concerned with earthly affairs and puts a strong accent on moral principles for creating a harmonious society.
It is not inimical to religion, but the Chinese leadership uses Confucianism as a political instrument for promoting order, Hornemann remarks. The use of Confucianism does not mean that it will become a state religion, but neither does it herald more religious freedom, especially since the current approach seems to use Confucianism for bolstering nationalism; its spiritual aspects will be downplayed. Consequently, one should not be mistaken about the meaning of the state promotion of some Confucian activities. Hornemann urges caution when evaluating the impact of today’s Confucian revival in China.–By Jean-Francois Mayer
(Forum 18: http://www.forum18.org)