The Persecution of Unorthodox Religious Groups in China:

A Report

(Clockwise from top left) Chinese government anti-cult propaganda; Tablighi Jamaat members with Hui Muslims at a mosque; practitioners of Yi Guan Dao; promotion for Milky Way Federation; a notice expanding the penalties under Article 300; the Jesus Family. Image credits: The PaperUmal Al-Dawa Youtube AccountJin De Fo Tang’s Facebook accountSohuLiaoning PindaoBridge Magazine  

In 2020, Dui Hua received a grant to produce a report on the persecution of unorthodox religions in China. The objective of the project was to provide analysis and actionable information that would enable more effective interventions on behalf of practitioners of unorthodox religious groups who face coercive measures under Article 300. 

Noting the extensive historical context informing the Chinese government’s approach to religious groups, especially those not sanctioned by the state, Dui Hua found that the 1997 revision to the criminal law placed “cult” trials into the purview of district courts, resulting in less transparency and attention for such cases. By 1999, trials of Article 300 cases—for those accused of organizing and using superstitious sects, secret societies, and religious organizations to undermine the law—soared, largely due to the ban on Falun Gong.  

Using legal documents, media reports, case studies, official publications, Chinese government responses to requests for information on persecuted prisoners, court statistics, and the Political Prisoner Database (PPDB), The Persecution of Unorthodox Religious Groups in China provides a comprehensive view of how non-state sanctioned religious practitioners come into conflict with the law, how officials at different levels of government criminalize unorthodox worship, and how past trends can inform future advocacy for those undergoing coercive measures for the non-violent expression of their beliefs.  

The report is divided into nine sections:

  1. Introduction;
  2. Overview of unorthodox religious groups;
  3. Laws and regulations targeting unorthodox religious groups;
  4. Analysis of court statistics from 1979-2016;
  5. Discussion of deteriorating transparency in the disclosure of information on Article 300 cases;
  6. PPDB statistics and and analysis of religious persecution;
  7. Dui Hua’s advocacy for such prisoners through the use of prisoner lists and responses;
  8. Conclusion;
  9. Recommendations. 

Download the report (PDF 1.4 MB)

Learn more about Dui Hua’s research the persecution of unorthodox religious groups in China: