Document 19 (1982)


Document 19 (1982)
Document 19, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) directive from the Central Committee to its CCP and government cadres promulgated in 1982, is a comprehensive religious policy that was part of Deng Xiaoping’s ‘reform and opening’ (gaige kaifang). Document 19 resulted in the revival of many religious traditions in China through the gradual rehabilitation or release of many religious specialists of recognized religions (Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestant Christianity) from prisons, the return of seized property to recognized religious organizations, and the reopening of monasteries, convents and seminaries. Although it has been further refined and adjusted by succeeding CCP directives (such as Articles 144 and 145 from the PRC State Council, promulgated by Li Peng in 1994), it remains the most comprehensive official review of past CCP religious policy and the guiding strategy for contemporary CCP religious policy—the administrative cooptation of recognized religious organizations into various state structures, the role of religion in attaining CCP goals of modernization and the building of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, and the official ambivalence towards foreign religious organizations and leaders. Document 19 contains an introductory explanation from the Central Committee and twelve sections that discuss: theoretical explanations of religion; an overview of religions in China; the past and present relationship between the CCP and religious organizations, including property issues, training of religious specialists, and special stances towards the religions of ethnic minorities; the proscription of illicit religious activities; and the role of religion in China’s international relations.
Document 19 is also central in understanding post-reform religious practices in the mainland because it highlights the idealized role of the state towards religion—while the freedom of religious belief is guaranteed in the PRC constitution, the freedom of religious practice is not, and must be carefully administered by the state to ensure the development and stability of Chinese society.
Luo, Zhufeng (1991). Religion Under Socialism in China. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
MacInnis, Donald E. (1989). Religion in China Today: Policy and Practice. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. [Contains full English text of Document 19.]
ERIBERTO P.LOZADA JR

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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