The draft law on religious organizations has not only angered religious groups. As many as 700 academics and cultural workers are calling on the government to stop meddling with religion. In response, the Ministry of the Interior says the draft law is not an interference with religion. The government, in fact, respects religious freedom.
Over the weekend, over one hundred temples and shrines took to the street, unhappy at what they see as government interference in offering incense. Many think that the demonstration was not only linked to the issue of burning incense but also a reaction to the government's current drafting of legislation to regulate religious groups. 700 academics and arts and cultural workers launched a petition and called on the government to stop its improper interference in civil beliefs. They also asked on what scientific evidence the government based its elimination or reduction of incense burning.
==HU TAI-LI Dir., Academia Sinica, Institute of Ethnology==
I think they don't realise what sort of effects this kind of government intervention produces, what kind of psychological effects and damage to culture, I don't think they are very aware of this.
==LIN MEI-REN Prof., Tzu Chi University Institute of Religion and Humanity==
Religion and folk beliefs are the most resilient and self-regulating types of belief, in fact, they are the least of things the government has to worry about.
The DPP government's draft legislation on religious groups includes limits on legalisation of religion, financial transparency, limits on how profits can be used, donations and fundraising and allows for the finances of religious organisations to come under official scrutiny. Tax, set income tax and tax exemptions are all to be revised and if the management is in violation of tax laws, a court-appointed manager may take over. This has been criticised as the government interfering in religion. The Minister of the Interior clarified and said that the government respects religious freedom and would not suppress religion by control.
==YEH JIUNN-RONG Minister of the Interior==
We are not in a hurry to push this legislation through, we actually think that this one legislation needs get a considerable consensus before we enact it.
The MOI said that internationally in countries where government and religion were separate, there was respect for religion and it was also regulated. Currently, the legislation was in draft form and had not been sent to the Executive Yuan for review. Views and opinions would be sought before any law was enacted.
TRANSLATED BY：CLARE LEAR
記者 陳佳鑫 張梓嘉 台北報導