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Religious venue list completed

Source:China Daily 2015年12月22日 10:20

China has publicized basic information on all Buddhist monasteries and Taoist temples nationwide to enable public supervision of religious activities and prevent fraud perpetrated in the name of religion.

On Thursday, the State Administration for Religious Affairs posted on its website information on all Buddhist and Taoist venues in 11 provincial areas, including the Xinjiang Uygur and the Tibet autonomous regions, after publicizing such information for 20 other provincial areas starting in April 2014.

The information on all such venues in China is now accessible on the SARA website. It includes the name, location, address and person responsible for each venue.

Jiang Jianyong, deputy head of the SARA, said the initiative was undertaken to prevent people from falsely claiming affiliation with either of the two religious denominations to defraud believers out of money, mainly in the form of religious donations.

Under national regulations, only religious venues that are registered with religious affairs authorities may organize religious activities and accept religious donations.

Jiang said the authority will update the information of the Taoist and Buddhist religious venues annually.

China has 33,652 Buddhist venues - 3,853 are Tibetan Buddhist - and 8,269 Taoist venues, according to the SARA.

Most of the Tibetan Buddhist venues are in Tibet and bordering areas - 46 percent of them, or 1,779 venues, are in the autonomous region and 27.4 percent, or 783 venues, are in Sichuan province.

Jiang said the authority also intends to complete the certification of all Buddhist and Taoist venues next year.

The initiative follows an incident involving Baima Aose, a self-proclaimed living Buddha, hosting what was purportedly an enthronement ceremony to ordain Zhang Tielin, a Chinese actor, in Hong Kong in October.

Baima Aose resigned from his posts and issued an apology this month after being pronounced a fake by many living Buddhas and by the temple in which he claimed he had been ordained.

Master Zongxing, vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China, said the SARA should distinguish in the publicized information between religious venues and registered temples or monasteries.

Wei Deidong, a professor of Buddhist studies at Renmin University of China, said that the SARA initiative will help the public distinguish between the real and fake.

However, he said, the main reason that many people are still cheated by fake Buddhists and Taoists is that there are not enough temples.

There is not a single Buddhist temple in Beijings Chaoyang district, which has a population of 2 million, he said. The key to preventing more cases of clerical charlatanism is to increase the number of real clergy people and real venues.

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