The State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) was an executive agency directly under the State Council of the People's Republic of China which oversaw religious affairs in the country. Originally created in 1951 as the Religious Affairs Bureau, SARA was closely connected with the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and charged with overseeing the operations of China's five officially sanctioned religious organizations:
- Buddhist Association of China
- Chinese Taoist Association
- Islamic Association of China
- Three-Self Patriotic Movement (Protestant)
- Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association
|Parent department||United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party|
|State Administration for Religious Affairs|
The State Administration for Religious Affairs was established to exercise control over religious appointments, the selection of clergy, and the interpretation of religious doctrine. SARA was also meant to ensure that the registered religious organizations support and carry out the policy priorities of the CCP. For instance, SARA has maintained a "living Buddha database" to track prominent Tibetan Buddhists who are loyal to the CCP.
Ye Xiaowen directed the SARA from 1995 to 2009. During his tenure, he issued the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5, which furthered state control over reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism, and attempted to suppress underground Catholics loyal to Rome (which he considered "colonial") and not to the government-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. After Ye was promoted to the Secretary of the CCP Committee at the Central Institute of Socialism, the former Deputy Director Wang Zuo'an was promoted to Director. Under the Xi Jinping administration, it was announced in 2018 that SARA was being dissolved and its functions would be collapsed into the United Front Work Department.
Similar government agenciesEdit
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- Official website (in Chinese)