American nuns, Chinese booze and religious persecution

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 media@becketlaw.org

May 13, 2015, USA Today

The Chinese government had a problem. Faced with rising discontent over its repressive rule in the largely Muslim province of Xinjiang, the government wanted to find a way to weaken Islam in the region. But how does a government weaken a religion?

The government started by forbidding government employees and their children from attending mosques. Making it illegal for the governing class to attend certain worship services is surely one way to weaken a religion. That has not occurred in the United States, although the federal government has sent undercover agents into Native American religious ceremonies and criminally prosecuted them for their traditional use of eagle feathers.

Next, the Chinese government outlawed women from wearing veils and men from wearing long beards on buses. Forcing people to hide their religious identity is another logical way to stifle religion. That has not occurred here either, although it has occurred in other liberal Western democracies. In France, for example, a 15-year-old schoolgirl was recently sent home for the offense of … wearing a long skirt. The principal judged the skirt to be an obvious sign of the girl’s Muslim faith, and French law forbids students from wearing even the most basic signs of religious faith, such as Jewish yarmulkes and noticeable Christian crosses.