China’s ruling Communist Party has ordered local governments to better regulate the construction of large outdoor religious statues amid increasing restrictions on religious expression of all kinds, according to a news agency report.
The directive from the United Front Work Department viewed on its websites on Saturday appears targeted mainly at followers of Buddhism and Taoism, two of China’s five officially recognized religions.
It says regulating such statues and preventing further commercialization of religions must be a “top priority.”
Thousands of Buddhist and Taoist temples and shrines, along with mosques and churches, were damaged or destroyed under communism, especially during the violent 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
Although many have been restored and reopened since then, new regulations and a bureaucratic overhaul earlier this year have put the day-to-day running of religious affairs directly under the officially atheistic party.