U.S. State Department Releases 2004 International Religious Freedom Report

September 16, 2004

The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor issued its annual report on international religious freedom, as required under U.S. law. The report, released on September 15, includes a section on China that provides an overview of the repressive environment for religion throughout China, despite a guarantee of religious freedom in China's Constitution. A subsection focuses on the situation in Tibetan areas of China. The publication sets out trends and developments, and provides details on cases of repression against Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims in China, as well as practitioners in spiritual groups like Falun Gong.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China has welcomed China’s progress toward developing a system based on the rule of law, but in the case of religion, the Chinese government uses law as a weapon against believers. The Chinese government uses a variety of laws and regulations to repress believers who choose not to worship within the confines of government-authorized religion, and prohibits the free publication, distribution and importation of the Bible, the Koran, and the sacred texts and teachings of other religious and spiritual groups. The Commission has called on the Chinese leadership to release all religious prisoners and open itself to dialogue on establishing true freedom of religion for all its citizens.