Beijing: The head of China's top religious affairs regulator said Communist Party members should not seek value and faith in religion and those who persist must be punished.
"Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members ? Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey Party rules and stick to the Party's faith ? they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion," Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, was quoted as saying by the Global Times on Wednesday.
Officials who have religious faith should be persuaded to give it up and those who resist would be punished by the Party, Wang wrote.
He added that Party members were also forbidden from supporting or getting involved in religious affairs in the name of developing the economy or diversifying culture.
"It is important that Wang constantly reminds Party members not to have religious beliefs. Some people who claim to be scholars support religious beliefs in the Party, which has undermined the Party's values based on dialectical materialism," party official Zhu Weiqun told the Global Times.
Wang also stressed the need for a firm political direction in managing religious affairs.
"Some foreign forces have used religion to infiltrate China, and extremism and illegal religious activities are spreading in some places, which have threatened national security and social stability," Wang added.
"Guiding religions to suit to China's development is a core policy to solve China's religious problems," added Su Wei, another Communist Party official.