Why there should be a separation between church and state in Hong Kong
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Why there should be a separation between church and state in Hong Kong

Tuesday, 27 October 2020
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
The Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Hong Kong

It is quite appropriate to use “half angels and half demons” to describe some church organisations.

Religion is a cultural phenomenon which has emerged in the development of human society to a certain historical stage, and belongs to a special social ideology. It uses human beings’ wonder and awe of the mystery of the universe and life to form a doctrine of persuading good and punishing evil, and is used to instruct the world and make people believe.

Religion has the ability to make its believers act. If a religion promotes positive thoughts, it will undoubtedly make believers act in favour of society, and it can make people cut off evil and cultivate good. On the other hand, if followers interpret and promote ideas that are not conducive to the peaceful and stable development of society, then the harm to society by religious believers is unimaginable.

The separation of church and state is a principle of modern political science and has become the mainstream view of European and American political theories. The trend of modern society is toward the pursuit of objective reality, so that religion and political forces do not interfere with each other, political decisions are not affected by religious forces, and science is completely separated from it, and objective subjects are treated in an objective manner.

Although the separation of religion and politics has become the basic principle of modern constitutionalism, due to historical and religious traditions, there is no universal model even in Western countries where the system originated.

Many countries in the world still have political parties with strong religious backgrounds, whether they are Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism or Islam. Religious forces still have a certain degree of influence on the government. Many politicians have a relationship with religious groups to a certain extent. Religious groups and so-called religious celebrities still have a powerful influence on the government and its administration, and even affect the cognition and behaviour of citizens.

Since the 1980s, many religions around the world have become more and more enthusiastic about participating in social and public affairs, and have even been at the forefront of collective action. Take Hong Kong as an example. The Catholic Church played an extremely important role in the large-scale “Anti-Article 23 Legislation” demonstration in 2003, effectively abusing religious attributes to participate in politics and violating the separation of church and state.

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong established the Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission in 1997. Most of its members are appointed by the bishop. The diocese provides financial materials and office space for it, and assign a deputy bishop to guide.

The Orthodox Committee can represent the attitude and position of the church in name, but it has long been inconsistent with the position of the diocese in terms of interpretation of “Catholic Social Doctrine” and political participation. It has provided a platform for political players among the clergy, thus misleading believers and the general public, and cooperating with overseas political organisations.

Since the outbreak of the “Anti-Revision Movement” in Hong Kong in 2019, the HKJP (Justice and Peace commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese) has acted as the vanguard of the Catholic community in Hong Kong. While continuing its anti-China actions, it has actively organised and participated in social movement activities which engage in anti-China activities against Hong Kong, while linking overseas anti-China organisations to intervene in the Hong Kong situation.

There was no communication on the anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre but the HKJP openly defied the government on 4 June. As the coronavirus pandemic started spreading in Hong Kong earlier this year, and the SAR government carried out nucleic acid testing, some organisations spread rumours and called on the people to resist. To this day, the HKJP still did not speak out.

Since 2003, the FDC has launched the “July 1 Parade” every year. In recent years, all the demonstrations launched by the “democratic faction” were carried out in the name of the FDC. Especially in 2019, the “Anti-Revision Movement” led to the proliferation of gangsters, which led to the collapse of Hong Kong’s rule of law, economic recession, putting whole industries in depression, social tears, and jeopardising people’s livelihood. This is the true face of the HKJP.

The historical experience of more than two thousand years has taught us that religious institutions should not be be too deeply involved in politics. The church should avoid direct and excessive conflicts with local governments. The Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission is like a naughty child, which has abused its influence for many years, whereas the Hong Kong diocese is like a mother, silently paying the bill. Let us hope that the child’s rebellion will end soon so that the church family can be in harmony again.