China must guarantee its citizens’ rights to freedom of religious belief, a coalition of lawyers, religious leaders and academics have told Beijing, reports The UK Telegraph in Ucanews.
The call came as church demolitions and the arrests of Christians stoke fears of a nationwide 'anti-church' campaign.
'Religious freedom is a basic and core value of modern nations and societies,' argued the 'Purdue Consensus on Religious Freedom' which was signed by more than 50 people, including some of China’s foremost rights lawyers, underground church leaders and intellectuals.
All Chinese citizens had the responsibility 'to respect, to protect, and to fight for' religious freedom, the statement added.
The consensus was published on Wednesday following a three-day summit at Purdue University in the United States, where activists and religious leaders discussed their concerns over religious freedom in China. High on the meeting’s agenda was the demolition of churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang and the recent detentions of Christians in Beijing and Guizhou province in southwest China.
Chinese citizens should have the freedom 'to practice their faith, to worship together, to establish religious venues, to use religious symbols, to publish religious books, and to disseminate religious faith,' the consensus said.
Missionary work is currently illegal in China while Beijing’s State Administration for Religious Affairs tightly controls the construction and administration of places of worship.
FULL STORY Beijing urged to relax anti-Church crackdown (The Telegraph/Ucanews)