China Launches Online Database, Verification System to Combat Fraudulent Clerics in Muslim, Catholic, Protestant Communities

Pixabay/ Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

To address the issue of fraudulent clerics, the Chinese communist government has launched an online database and verification system targeting Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant religious leaders. The initiative aims to safeguard religious communities from the influence of imposters and maintain the authenticity and integrity of the clergy.

Online Database and Verification System

According to reports from UCA News, the new system will provide a centralized platform where the credentials and information of Muslim imams, Catholic priests, and Protestant pastors can be registered and verified. The move is seen as a significant effort by the Chinese authorities to address the issue of individuals falsely claiming to be religious leaders, exploiting people’s faith for personal gain. The online database will comprehensively store verified religious figures, allowing believers and the government to access accurate information regarding clerics’ identities, qualifications, and affiliations. Moreover, the step is expected to foster transparency and accountability within religious institutions, promoting trust between religious communities and the state.

Critics, however, express concerns about potential government interference in religious affairs and argue that the system could be exploited to suppress dissenting voices or control religious institutions.  On the other hand, the China Christian Daily reported that the online platform, synchronized across the websites of various religious organizations, including the China Islamic Association, the Catholic Patriotic Association, the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China, the China Christian Council, the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and the National Religious Affairs Administration, provides the public with accessible query services.

These services enable individuals to obtain verified information about legally recognized and registered clerics from the abovementioned religions. In addition, the information query system offers seven critical pieces of data: names, genders, photos, religious titles, religious denominations, identities, and ID numbers of religious personnel. The system ensures the timely updating of these details, guaranteeing accuracy and reliability.

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Buddhist and Taoist Monks’ ‘Online Archive’

The Chinese government has introduced an online archive that provides citizens with access to identification data of registered Buddhist and Taoist monks, the Agenzia Fides reported. The system, which became available on Wednesday, February 22, aims to verify the identity and roles of each monk. The development follows the announcement that information regarding Islamic, Catholic, and Protestant clergy will be incorporated into the database shortly. As mentioned, the search system was launched in Beijing. It can be accessed through the websites of the Chinese Buddhist Association, the Chinese Taoist Association, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), and the China Tibet Network.

The database offers seven critical details about each Buddhist and Taoist monk, including their name, gender, religious title, registration number, and accompanying photograph. This information is also possible via mobile phones by entering verification codes and meeting the system’s specified criteria. The system aims to maintain order within religious institutions and safeguard the authentic transmission of Buddhism and Taoism. Furthermore, it empowers Chinese Taoists and Buddhists to identify fraudulent monks, thereby protecting the public interest and citizens’ legitimate rights and well-being.

Accordingly, the Chinese Buddhist Association and the Chinese Taoist Association have pledged to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the available information by regularly updating the data of registered monks. The commitment underscores their dedication to preserving the integrity of the religious community and safeguarding the interests of the general public.

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