New financial management measures in China target religious groups

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04/16/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – China’s attempt to get more control over religious groups is now being followed by a new set of rules focused on the financial management of religious venues.

The State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) recently introduced the “Measures for the financial management of places of religious activities”, which will come into effect on June 1. These measures were reportedly reviewed and refined by SARA and the Ministry of Finance, after asking the public for comment from November 5 to December 5 last year.

The “Measures” include ten chapters and fifty-five articles, “improve the financial management system of religious activity sites”, according to the United Front Work Department’s WeChat.

According to China Christian Dailythe “Measures” state that religious activity sites should establish and improve internal financial management systems and institutions, and important issues should be decided after the site management organization conducts a study.

Sites should formulate an asset management system to strengthen the management of their current assets, fixed assets, intangible assets, and cultural relics and assets. The “Measures” clarifies the supervisory responsibilities of religious affairs departments and financial departments, as well as the supervisory rights of financial personnel, religious clergy, donors and clerics.

In addition, places of worship must provide the registration management authority with financial and accounting reports for the previous year, as well as the acceptance and use of donations, within the first three months of the second year.

Asia News comments that these new rules impose greater government control over religious activities. With the United Front Department of Labor and the Ministry of Finance now in charge of funding religious sites, religious personnel, believers and donors need only be consulted. This means that places of worship and their finances can be used “only” according to the instructions of the Communist Party.

Since most house churches are not registered with the government, even though these new measures will not have a direct impact on them, it is possible that the authorities in the future will accuse unauthorized churches of not fail to abide by these regulations and the revised regulations on religious affairs, and proceed to close their churches.

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