Is reincarnation too important to leave to the market?

Communist China’s attempts to suppress Tibetan Buddhism are well known in the West, where it’s created a backlash in the form of the “Free Tibet” movement, so Chinese excesses in seeking to diminish the influence of the Dalai Lama aren’t surprising. But now the Beijing government is going where no totalitarian state has gone before. Reports Newsweek:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission…the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

This would allow Beijing to claim authority to choose the next Dalai Lama, in the hopes of coopting Tibetan Buddhism, which it perceives as a threat to the centrality of the state’s power. Beijing has tried to do the same to the Catholic Church, with limited success. But China’s communist government may yet have found the way to make religion go away: bureaucratize it to death. (Thanks to VC for the Newsweek link.)