Christian parents in China have shared how their schoolchildren are being taught that Christianity is an “evil cult” and encouraged to “hate God” as the officially atheist country continues to tighten its grip on religion.
According to Chinese persecution watchdog Bitter Winter, since the Regulations on Religious Affairs legislation was implemented last year, schools around China have adopted “unprecedented measures” to keep students away from Christianity. Schools in China are government-controlled, and therefore Communist in ideology.
The policy has resulted in difficult situations for families as children are encouraged to question the beliefs of family members and report those closest to them to authorities.
Several Christian parents shared their stories with Bitter Winter, revealing the magnitude of China’s animosity toward Christianity.
“My teacher says that Christianity is an evil cult,” one boy explained to his mother. “[That] if you believe in it, you will leave home and not take care of me. You might set yourself on fire, too.”
Another mother shared how, after discovering an anti-Christian school textbook in her son’s backpack, she hid many of the items that identified her as a believer to help her son with his anxiety.
A month later, when her son found another religious leaflet in his mother’s bag by chance, he “angrily took a fruit knife from the kitchen and fiercely poked several holes in it,” according to the outlet.
He then threatened his mother to give up her faith because “Christianity is an evil cult” and she “mustn’t believe in it.”
“Before starting school, I told my child about God’s creation, and he believed it,” the woman explained. “But after being taught at school, my child is like a different person. In atheistic China, these pure and innocent children have been taught to hate God.”
Kindergarten and primary schools are also teaching children how to oppose religion. In late April, a primary school in Xinzheng city in the central province of Henan encouraged young children to refrain from believing in any deity.
“If your mom goes to church and believes in God, she doesn’t want you as her child anymore,” one teacher said.
Another school screened a propaganda video in which Jesus followers were depicted as big scary monsters. After the presentation was complete, a teacher warned that Christian relatives might “cast spells” on the youngsters.
One of the parents at the school said that as a result, her son actively opposed her reading religious books in the family home. Another student was terrified that his mom was going to be led away by police.
Others students were advised to “supervise” their parents to ensure that they don’t practice their faith.
“It leads to a dead-end,” one young student said of his father's Christian faith. “If you attend gatherings, you will be arrested.”
China introduced revised regulations on religion in February, which included banning under-18s from attending church or receiving any religious education.
The new regulations have also forced primary schools in Henan to warn parents that they are not allowed to breach the country's laws on the practice of religion.
"No one may use religions to disrupt social order, harm citizens or impede the national education system," read a letter by the Ninth Primary School of Linzhou city of Anyang and the First Primary School of Chengguan town of Xingyang city of Chengzhou.
"It is an offense for any organizations or individuals to guide, support, permit and condone minors to believe in religions or participate in religious activities," it warned.
Officials have also reportedly claimed schools are places "for the state to foster students to build up socialist society," with parents told they have an obligation "to nurture children in accordance with national laws and social requirements."
China ranks as the 27th worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. Open Doors has expressed concern that the religious affairs in China now “lies with the Communist Party.”