China's on a mission to ban superstition, according to Reuters. In a rare public forum, the head of China's State Administration of Religious Affairs, Wang Zuoan, announced the government's official position on religion: that it pretty much sucks.
And toss out those fortune cookies while you're at it. Zuoan told state-run newspaper, the Study Times:
For a ruling party which follows Marxism, we need to help people establish a correct world view and to scientifically deal with birth, ageing, sickness and death, as well as fortune and misfortune, via popularizing scientific knowledge.
Zuoan ascribed China's rising fervor for the hip, new trend of religion to China's economic boom, which made people want to search for something reassuring amidst their newly complex lives.
China's religious population is at least 100 million people, with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Daoists comprising the majorities. They're all technically protected by their constitution, but rights groups note that the country controls religion with an iron grip, says Reuters.
Earlier this month, a Chinese lawyer said he was beaten up by 10 police officers after being told he couldn't defend practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice which officials call an "evil cult", Reuters reported.
Luckily (if that word is still allowed), Zuoan acknowledged that he can't turn China atheist in a single night. "Religion has been around for a very long time, and if we rush to try to push for results and want to immediately 'liberate' people from the influence of religion, then it will have the opposite effect and push people in the opposite direction," he said.