The State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) on Monday called on local authorities to "resolutely ban" any acts of profiteering related to religious activity.
The administration also told government departments not to allow or support any contract operation, equity investment or joint investment conducted by enterprises or individuals at religious sites.
The SARA said in a statement issued jointly with nine other authorities on Monday that some local governments, enterprises and individuals have made religion a profitable instrument by building new religious sites for profit, hiring fake monks or clergy to conduct illegal religious activities and collect religious endowments, as well as tricking or forcing visitors to surrender their money.
Moreover, some companies have invested in popular religious sites and categorized them as listed assets, the statement said.
Such practices have disturbed the order of religious activity, impaired the interests and image of the religious circle, hurt the feelings of believers and violated the rights of other visitors, the statement said.
The authorities vowed serious punishment for government officials who are found to be involved in such practices.
Religious affairs should be administered exclusively by their respective circles under the supervision of relevant government departments, the statement said.
The authorities also asked for a thorough check of the country's registered religious venues to eliminate violations.
No organization or site other than legally registered ones are allowed to organize or hold religious activities or to accept religious endowments, the statement said.
Furthermore, the statement said all clergy should be qualified by relevant religious organizations and register at administrative organs for religious affairs at the county level or above.
The authorities will investigate cases of fake clergy conducting religious services, seize any illegal gains and punish violators, the statement said.
The statement also called for tourism enterprises and tourist guides to avoid recommending for-profit worship sites.