Text: | Print|

True religion is for people's good(2)

2014-06-05 08:43 Web Editor: Wang Fan

A cult, on the other hand, more often than not is not registered and does not hold activities legally. Some cults even worship mysterious chiefs, who issue orders to their followers in the name of faith.

Unlike religions that are transparent in procedure, cults often hide facts from their ordinary followers. In this sense, cults are more like underground societies, in which every follower has to obey one above him/her in the order and those who want to leave are often threatened with dire consequences and even murdered.

Social influence is another aspect that distinguishes a cult from religion. Religion is very important to society because it provides spiritual support to the people. Through its rituals and prayers, a religion also forms a kind of transcendental tie that makes people feel secure in a world of uncertainties. Religion, as a form of philosophy, helps people recognize themselves. It also acts as the central element of some cultural traditions and influences people's development.

A cult fails on all these fronts. All that a cult does to society is to curb its development and threaten the happiness and safety of the people.

Like most countries in the world, China respects its citizens' right to religion, and this principle is clearly stated in its Constitution. The freedom to religious belief in China includes both - to believe in any religion and not to believe in any. And both believers and non-believers are protected by the law.

Cults that threaten non-believers with violence are, in fact, a threat to religious freedom, and must be properly dealt with. The "Church of Almighty God", for example, has more than 1 million followers divided into seven levels, with lower-level followers unconditionally obeying their superiors. Worse, the organization claims that "all non-believers will be killed by lightening", and has formed a group to "punish" people who refuse to join or want to quit the order. The tragedy in Zhaoyuan is the handiwork of such a group.

The Zhaoyuan incident has highlighted the necessity to crack down on cults to better protect people's religious freedom. It has also reminded us that all religions should be open and transparent about their activities and practices. Religions that believe in mysterious and secretive rituals, and underground activities violate the basic values of society; they infringe upon people's rights to life, liberty, property and religion.

The tragic death of the woman in Zhaoyuan should teach people to differentiate between cults and religions and avoid falling into the trap of crooks masquerading as religious practitioners.

The author, Li Xiangping, is a professor at and director of the Center of Religion and Society, affiliated to East China Normal University.

Comments (0)
Most popular in 24h
  Archived Content
Media partners:

Copyright ©1999-2018 Chinanews.com. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.