County Survey Reveals Widespread Acceptance of Religion Among Hui Party Members

April 27, 2005

The Gansu Party Organization Department recently published survey findings that provide rare details on the precise number of minority party members within a rural county and an even more unusual acknowledgment of widespread party member acceptance of religion (see 李盛刚,妥善解决少数民族和信教群众居区农村党员信仰宗教问题的积极探索,甘肃理论学看,2004年11月). The Organization Department conducted the survey in Zhangjiachuan Hui Autonomous County, which contains a higher percentage of the Hui Muslim minority (69.5 percent) than any other autonomous county in China. 63.7 percent of county party members there are Hui, while 53.3 percent of the "peasant party members" in the county are Hui.

The survey revealed much "confusion" among minority party members on the relationship between politics and religion, with 95 percent indicating they saw no problem in believing in both Communism and religion. Although Party policy bars members from believing in religion, the survey revealed that 61.2 percent of the county’s Hui party members participated in "major religious activities," and more than 12 percent participated in religious rituals on a daily basis.

The Central Party Organization's 1991 "Notice on The Proper Handling of Party Members Who Believe in Religion" contains special provisions for minority cadres. The Notice states that "minority customs" should not be seen as "religious festivals" and specifically allows minority cadres to participate in weddings, funerals, and popular minority festivals. The Gansu Party Organization Department author attempts to separate a detailed list of Hui practices into separate "minority customs" and "religious practices" categories. The report concludes that minority cadres who participate in daily religious observances and "refuse to be educated," must be expelled from the party.