Source: Direct Reports from China
Date: May 31, 2018
Bitter Winter is receiving many reports from mainland China of schools suppressing religious freedoms. This has especially intensified since the adoption of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs in February 2018, which prohibits minors under 18 from joining a religion and engaging in religious activities.
On April 24, under an order from Lingbao Education Bureau and the Religious Affairs Bureau, a Lingbao primary school distributed “A Letter to Primary Students and Secondary Students and Parents in the City of Lingbao” to all students and demanded them to ask their parents to sign it. One of the teachers, Zhang, threatened the students by saying, “You are banned from attending the midterm exam if you forget to bring the letter back to school tomorrow morning or do not ask your parents to sign it.”
The next day was the exam day, and one of the students did not bring the signed notice and was hit and scolded by Zhang. Sources reveal that Zhang questioned this student why he did not ask his parents to sign the letter and the student replied that he had forgotten to do so. On hearing this, the teacher grabbed this student by his right ear and slapped his face twice fiercely with her right hand, while rebuking him at the same time. The student’s face became red and swollen. The student suffered a trauma both physically and psychologically from the teacher’s assault, which also intimidated other students.
The Chinese government has strengthened its control over religious activities in recent years, extending the scope from churches to schools. Some analysts believe that the purpose of the government’s measures of resisting religious beliefs in schools is to forbid teenagers from accepting religious education and constrain the development of religions.
Bitter Winter reports on how religions are allowed, or not allowed, to operate in China and how some are severely persecuted after they are labeled as “xie jiao,” or heterodox teachings. We publish news difficult to find elsewhere, analyses, and debates.
Placed under the editorship of Massimo Introvigne, one of the most well-known scholars of religion internationally, “Bitter Winter” is a cooperative enterprise by scholars, human rights activists, and members of religious organizations persecuted in China (some of them have elected, for obvious reasons, to remain anonymous).