A growth in religious practices within the Chinese government will impede its national leadership, according to a member of the Chinese Communist Party.
Executive vice director of CCP's United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, recently said religious practice is a growing trend particularly in culturally diverse areas, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Weiqun also sternly reiterated that CCP condemns such practices.
“Voices have appeared within the party calling for an end to the ban on religion, arguing in favor of the benefits of religion for party members and even claiming the ban on religion for party members is unconstitutional,” Weiqun said.
“In fact, our party’s principled stance regarding forbidding members from believing in religion has not changed one iota,” he added.
CCP is claims to provide religious freedom, however, religious persecution is still an increasing problem in China.
Weiqun's comments follow a recent crackdown on religious practices, particularly in ethnic regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang. Critics blame CCP's anti-religious views for the rise in tensions between Beijing and the Vatican.
Earlier this year the Vatican expressed its disapproval of CCP's crackdowns in a declaration.
"The Holy See reaffirms the right of Chinese Catholics to be able to act freely, following their consciences and remaining faithful to the Successor of Peter and in communion with the universal Church," the declaration said.
"The Holy Father, having learned of these events, once again deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated and hopes that the present difficulties can be overcome as soon as possible," it added.
While CCP no longer prohibits all religions, all officially recognized religious groups are controlled by the government to some extent. Under CCP, no church can be affiliated with any associations deemed Protestant or Catholic.
Other religious groups, including Buddhists and Muslims, are watched very closely and must regularly answer to cynical and often suspicious public servants.