Rebirth Control: Contemporary Inner Mongolian Buddhism and the Religious Authority of the Chinese State
The regulation of religious affairs by China’s Communist state is often presented in European and American media as paradoxical and absurd. The reaction to Order Number Five, passed by the Chinese State Administration of Religious Affairs in 2007 is a case in point. The new regulation stipulated that Tibetan Buddhist monasteries intending to mount a search for the reincarnation of a “living Buddha” would be required to apply for permission for the lama to be reincarnated. An anonymous editorial in The Economist, published under the headline “Reincarnation Rules, But Only If the Chinese Communist Party Says So” described the provision of “living Buddha permits” as “bizarre” and condemned the Chinese government’s intervention in religious affairs as “odd meddling” (“Reincarnation Rules,” 2007). Meanwhile, in the New York Times, no less a commentator than Slavoj Žižek described Order Number Five as a “paradox” because it stipulated that “your religious belief, a matter of your innermost spiritual experience, is regulated by the whims of your secular leader” (2007).
KeywordsChinese Communist Party Order Number Cultural Revolution Religious Life Religious People
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