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International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
The constitution provides for freedom of religious belief and the freedom not to believe; however, the Government seeks to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship and to control the growth and scope of activities of religious groups. The Government tries to control and regulate religion to prevent the rise of groups that could constitute sources of authority outside of the control of the Government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Nonetheless, membership in many faiths is growing rapidly.
During the period covered by this report, the Government's respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remained poor, especially for religious groups and spiritual movements that are not registered with the Government. Unregistered religious groups continued to experience varying degrees of official interference and harassment. Members of some unregistered religious groups were subjected to restrictions, including intimidation, harassment, and detention. Unregistered religious groups were pressured to register with government organs and government-sanctioned "patriotic" religious associations linked to the five main religions--Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
Religious practice and worship in officially sanctioned and unregistered places of worship continued to grow throughout the country, as did the number of religious believers. The extent of religious freedom varied widely within the country. For example, officials in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) tightly controlled religious activity, while elsewhere in the country, Muslims enjoyed greater religious freedom. Followers of Tibetan Buddhism, including in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas of the country (see separate appendix), also faced more restrictions on their religious practice and ability to organize than Buddhists in other parts of the country. In most areas of the country, religious believers could worship without difficulty in officially approved venues. The Government in some locations built new places of worship to accommodate increasing numbers of religious believers.