SUNDAY REVELATIONS: China puts limits on profit making religions

Li Yi, a Taoist priest, is under investigation

Chinese government officials said that “Supreme Master” Li Yi, a 41-year-old Taoist monk, had faked a long list of improbable super powers. Mr Li had claimed that he could sit cross-legged under water for over two hours because of his unique Taoist abilities and that he could withstand 220 volts of electricity circulating through his body. However, officials at the state religious authority in the central Chinese city of Chongqing suggested that the monk was in fact sitting inside a sealed glass box underwater, with enough air inside to last him for the duration of the performance.


Overall research by the State Administration for Religious Affairs finds that present problems, including contracted temples, arbitrary collection of fees, expensive incenses, and fortune-telling are mainly in non-religious venues, which are not legally approved and registered.

To put religious activities in good order, measures and legal punishment against unregistered and illegal religious activities have been adopted. For example, religious venues registered by law will be made public, and administrations of religious affairs, cultural heritages and tourism will unite to enforce the law.

Vice director of the Chinese Taoist Association Huang Xinyang said, “Some people are hired and disguised as Taoists to coax money from pilgrims and tourists by fortune-telling, which causes Taoists to be held in a negative light.”

He called on aggravated punishment for those who engage in illegal religious activities.

The number of religious activity venues, which have been officially approved, is nearly 139,000. This total includes 33,000 Buddhist temples, 9,000 Taoist temples, 35,000 mosques, 6,000 Catholic churches and 56,000 Christian churches.


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