BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top newspaper warned Communist Party officials on Thursday not to “pray to God and worship Buddha”, because communism is about atheism and superstition is at the root of many corrupt officials who fall from grace.
China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.
The party’s official People’s Daily said in a commentary it had not been uncommon over the past few years to see officials taken down for corruption to have also participated in “feudalistic superstitious activities”.
“In fact, some officials often go to monasteries, pray to God and worship Buddha,” it said. “Some officials are obsessed with rubbing shoulders with masters, fraternizing with them as brothers and becoming their lackeys and their money-trees.”
Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.
The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by President Xi Jinping upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.
The People’s Daily pointed to the example of Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief in Sichuan who was jailed for 13 years in 2015 for bribery and abuse of power, who it said was an enthusiastic user of the traditional Chinese geomancy practice of fengshui.
Another much more junior official, in the southern province of Jiangxi, wore charms to ward off bad luck, it said.
“As an official, if you spend all your time fixating on crooked ways, sooner or later you’ll come to grief,” it said.
The founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, banned fortune telling and superstition in puritan, communist…