The Chinese government is going after elementary and high schools to teach students that atheism, not religion, is the best belief system.
The Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, is indoctrinating the young minds, starting a movement to boycott religion on school campuses, using the typical means of threats and intimidation to achieve its ultimate goal of eradicating religion. Bitter Winter received witness accounts about the growing anti-religion attitude in schools across provinces in China.
In order to stop students from participating in religion, the Education Department of Heping district, in Shenyang city of the northeastern province of Liaoning, issued an edict at the end of October 2018 that prohibited the teaching of religion on school campuses under its jurisdiction – while also preventing students from having religious beliefs. Instead, the CCP would like educators to use flag-raising ceremonies and themed lessons aimed at strengthening students’ ideologies toward Party lines.
Teachers in a school in Liaoning’s Yingkou city received a WeChat message from their superiors asking to confirm if there are students in their classes that hold religious beliefs. “If there are, please communicate with the student’s parents to confirm that the student is indeed religious,” the message read. The teachers were further instructed to inform the parents of religious students that the school would report this information to authorities.
In northwest China, a school headmaster in the Anning district of Lanzhou city, Gansu Province’s capital, speaking at a student inauguration publicizing the spirit of the 19th CCP National Congress, demanded that teachers have the students in their classes vow their love for the Party and country.
On September 20, all teachers and students of a middle school in Lanzhou’s Yongdeng county – approximately 1500 people in total – convened in front of the teaching block, where two male police officers and the headmaster of the school sat in front of a stage.
“If anyone discovers someone who believes in God, you have to immediately report them to the Public Security Bureau. The reward for reporting a common believer in God is 1,000 RMB [about 6], and the reward for reporting a church head is 10,000 to 40,000 RMB [about ,500-,840],” one police officer told the children. “If your mom or dad believes in a religion, report them to us immediately. If you encounter any stranger who is preaching, call 110 [the number for police in China] to report them immediately.”
In a school-wide meeting for teachers and students held in October 2018, the dean of a middle school in Zhejiang, a province in eastern China, said: “The government has already labeled Falun Gong, Catholicism, and Protestantism as xie jiao – you must not believe these religions, you must only believe in the Communist Party.”
Christian parents were concerned. As one parent put it, the fear is that being indoctrinated “with this kind of atheist ideology” will leave kids “with mental prejudice against religion.”
In September 2018, the headmaster of a middle school in Huaibei city of Anhui Province, neighboring Zhejiang, demanded that all students and teachers in the school report any relatives of theirs who believe in God, with the warning that expulsion will come to those who believe, or who are related to people who believe in God.
But a headmaster of a primary school in Anhui’s Bozhou city was even more direct: “Central Committee leaders have said that if you believe in God, whether you’re a child, an adult or elderly person, you will be arrested and sentenced to prison.”
In mid-September 2018, multiple police officers investigated for three days religious beliefs of students at a primary school in Bozhou. According to one of the students, the police officers used bribes of money and snacks to try to lure first- and second-year primary school students into telling them whether their parents believed in God, and even tried to get them to report and identify against one another to cooperate with their investigation of religious beliefs.
At the beginning of June 2018, a primary school student from Gansu’s Zhangye city saw a large green sign in a classroom with the names of about a dozen religious groups on it – i.e., Falun Gong, the Shouters, The Church of Almighty God – as well as briefings on those groups, including cases of religious individuals who were persecuted to death after being labeled as followers of xie jiao by the CCP.
“Students, whatever you do, don’t believe in any God or spirits. They’re all fake and imaginary,” the instructor told the students. “These people who were detained for believing in God and died deserved it! If you see someone who believes in God, you need to report them to show your loyalty to the state.”
Reported by Piao Junying