Pulitzer Prize winning journalist discusses relationship between religion, China

first_imgIan Johnson, 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, discussed the role of religion in Chinese society during his lecture titled “Religion in China: Back to the Center of Politics and Society.” The event was sponsored by the McGrath Institute for Church Life and the US-China Catholic Association and took place in the Eck Visitors Center Auditorium on Monday.Johnson moved to Beijing in 2009 and has lived there since, working for publications such as The New York Times and The New York Review of Books, as well as for the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. His most recent book, “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao,” was released in 2017 and discusses these issues.Johnson began his discussion with a historical background of China’s relationship with religion during the late 19th century reform movements.“This was pretty much a top-down enterprise driven by elites in China who felt that their country was losing ground to the West — that there was something wrong with Chinese culture, especially with Chinese religion,” Johnson said.He described this general trend of governmental distaste for religion as continuing into the 20th century communism under Mao; however, he cited a recent modern shift in government view of religion from avoidance to acceptance of traditional Chinese religious practices.“I think the government’s policy, broadly speaking — and there are exceptions to all of this — is support of some religions and suspicion to downright hostility toward other religions,” Johnson said. “The religions that are supported are the traditional religions.”Johnson described the government’s renewed interest and support of traditional cultural religions through propaganda and UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage projects.“[The Chinese Government] redefined folk religious practice as intangible cultural heritage,” Johnson said. “Not all of intangible cultural heritage is religious but a fair amount of it is.”Johnson discussed the large implications of such cultural heritage projects for acceptance of previously scorned traditional religions.“[These religions] are no longer declared superstitious,” Johnson said. “They have the benefit of government support … it is that government support that matters and gives prestige. They are no longer looked down upon.”Johnson then discussed religions facing persecution in China — particularly Christianity and Islam — which he referred to as the “foreign faiths.” He presented the audience with images of crosses on buildings being removed, video surveillance of religious sites and government-run re-education camps for Muslims living in China.However, Johnson asserted that many ordinary religious practices, particularly related to Christianity, are still carried out throughout the country.“There are real problems going on, but there is also a lot of normal religious life that goes on despite the problems,” he said. “Not to try to whitewash it or sugarcoat it, but I think it is important to remember in a big country like China, when we are talking about religions with millions and tens of millions of numbers, it’s not as if everybody is under pressure.”Despite the continuing persecution of religious groups in China, Johnson expressed optimism regarding the recent increase of religious practice in the country.“What I find more interesting is that religion, from being a marginalized part of Chinese society, is back in the center,” he said. “It is back in the center in a good way — people search for values and search for meaning in life, things that are important issues in our own society — but also in the nitty gritty political world as well.”Tags: China, McGrath Institute for Church Life, religion, US-China Catholic Associationlast_img read more

Wolf Administration: New Grant Program is an Investment in Pennsylvania’s Dairy Industry, Farmers

first_img Economy,  Environment,  Press Release Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced the availability of $5 million in grant funding to help Pennsylvania dairy farmers overcome challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. This historic funding, made available for the first time under the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program, is the most recent of several initiatives from the Wolf Administration to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry.“Today’s market has presented new challenges to dairy farmers that are requiring them to innovate and adapt in order to remain successful,” Governor Wolf said. “The new Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program is a key tool that incentivizes the dairy industry to support the often costly and difficult process of modernizing or expanding their business model or operation. My administration is proud to continue to stand with our hard-working dairy farmers and their families.”The Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program was established under Act 42 of 2018 and will provide $5 million in grants to eligible applicants for researching new technologies, products and best practices; marketing to new domestic and international markets and exploring new business opportunities to diversify their operation and revenue streams; transitioning to organic production methods; and incorporating or expanding value-added dairy production, such as cheese and yogurt products. The program is now open for applications after guidelines were approved at today’s Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) board meeting.“These grants will help enable Pennsylvania dairy producers to overcome existing challenges, diversify their businesses, and strengthen their operations to aggressively and effectively compete in an increasingly competitive market,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “This historic funding is not only a critical investment in an industry grappling with difficult global market conditions, but a critical investment in our largest sector of production agriculture and the people whose livelihoods rely on it.”In August, Secretary Russell Redding unveiled the Wolf Administration’s Dairy Development Plan, designed to guide Pennsylvania’s dairy industry toward growth and development amid a challenging market that also offers tremendous opportunities for producers and processors.Other measures the administration has taken to support the dairy industry include kicking off the “Choose PA Dairy: Goodness that Matters” campaign to support Pennsylvania’s dairy industry by educating consumers on how to find and buy locally-produced milk, and why it matters to Pennsylvania’s economy and the health of its residents; launching a statewide study by some of the nation’s leading dairy economists in 2017 to evaluate opportunities and inhibitors to growth in the industry; petitioning the Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board to use the full extent of their statutory and regulatory powers to provide relief to dairy farmers affected by the persistent low-price environment; working to attract new processors to Pennsylvania; and surveying county economic development organizations to create an inventory of sites suitable for a dairy processing operation.Also at today’s CFA meeting, the board approved four agriculture projects through the First Industries Program to provide assistance to farmers looking to expand their operations:• Troy and Lynette Gelsinger were approved for a $250,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the construction of a third 31,500-square-foot poultry house on their 154-acre farm in Heidelberg Township, Berks County. In February 2016, the Gelsingers were approved for a loan through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority for the construction of two broiler houses on their farm. The success of that project led to this addition of a third broiler house. The total project cost is $500,000.• Frank Fisher Family Limited Partnership was approved for a $375,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the acquisition of 49.34 tillable acres of land located directly across from the Fisher’s home farm in Oley Township, Berks County. The farm’s primary crops are corn and soybean as well as other vegetables. The family operates a seasonal produce stand on the farm’s property where they sell their crops. The total project cost is $750,000.• Dean and Jennifer Adams were approved for a $400,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate through the Greater Berks Development Fund for the acquisition of a 123.92-acre farm located in Windsor Township, Berks County. The property includes a two-story family dwelling, corn barn, bank barn, pole building, and 93 tillable acres. The Adamses currently operate a 550-acre crop farm and a 68-cow dairy herd. The total project cost is $800,000.• Epsucheolige and Curtis Hoffman were approved for a $400,000, 15-year loan at a 2.75 percent rate with a 7-year reset through EDC Finance Corporation for the acquisition of a 46.24-acre parcel of land located in Rapho Township, Lancaster County. The property is located directly across from the Hoffman’s existing dairy farm and consists of a single-family dwelling, two barns, a pole building, a 314,000-gallon slurry tank, and thirty-eight tillable acres. The total project cost is $986,253.More information about the Pennsylvania Dairy Investment Program can be found on the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website. To stay up-to-date on all Pennsylvania economic development news, follow DCED on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and be sure to sign up for the department’s monthly e-newsletter. September 18, 2018 SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Wolf Administration: New Grant Program is an Investment in Pennsylvania’s Dairy Industry, Farmerslast_img read more