Educational authorities in the Chinese district of Lishan have initiated a push to eliminate religious belief in Kindergarten, requiring students to sign a statement saying they will “advocate science, promote atheism, and oppose theism.”
The commitment also requires the pupils to pledge they will not view religious websites or engage in religious forums online, according to a report by The Colson Center.
The plan bars schools from hiring teachers that hold religious beliefs. “With regard to existing teachers, it calls for increased supervision, including ‘comprehensive inspections of teachers’ preparation for lessons in order to root out any and all religious content,’” according to the report.
Sadly, students in other parts of China have also been pressured to make anti-religious commitments. “There are reports of students who, because they refused to sign, have been beaten.”
President Xi Jinping, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, appears to have an anti-religious bias. “Believers in south China have been forced to take down pictures of Jesus from their walls and replace them with pictures Xi Jinping,” according to the report.
He has made the compulsory separation of children from religious life a linchpin in enforcing China’s official atheism.
It is possible that President Xi is reacting to signs of economic instability in China, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “China’s consumers and businesses are losing confidence. Car sales have plunged. The housing market is stumbling. Some factories are letting workers off for the big Lunar New Year holiday two months early.”
If the Communist Party loses its grip, people may question its authority and legitimacy. Authoritative leaders often look for scapegoats, and Christians may be in the crosshairs. “As adherents to what many Chinese regards as a “Western” religion, their loyalties can be called into question. And they’ll likely not join Xi’s cult of personality, so they will be ideal targets,” according to The Colson Center.
In September 2017, government officials told more than a hundred Christian churches that children are forbidden from attending church services and joining Christian youth groups. “The notices stated that minors attempting to enter a church would be turned away at the door, even if accompanied by their parents.”
Incredibly, schoolteachers have also been banned from attending Catholic or Protestant churches in the Yonglin district.