Christian mother faces court in China for homeschooling her child

Chinese Catholic worshippers kneel and pray during Palm Sunday Mass during the Easter Holy Week at an 'underground' or 'unofficial' church on April 9, 2017 near Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China.
Chinese Catholic worshippers kneel and pray during Palm Sunday Mass during the Easter Holy Week at an "underground" or "unofficial" church on April 9, 2017 near Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China. | Getty Images/Kevin Frayer

Christian parents in China are paying close attention to a lawsuit filed by China’s communist government against a Christian mother who chose to homeschool her child instead of sending him to a public school.

The mother, identified as Fan Ruzhen, appeared in the Yintai District Court in Beihai on China's southwest coast last week, according to the U.S.-based group China Aid.

After summoning her several times and threatening to revoke her government-provided subsistence paycheck to punish her for homeschooling or providing a Christian education to her child, the Chinese government filed a lawsuit against her last September.

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In the first court session last December, Fan recited her rights and defended her competence to educate her child, the group said.

In a December hearing, the judge suggested the two parties reach a settlement, but the government wasn’t willing.

Her lawyer said the government violated the Compulsory Education Law of China by accusing her. And five teachers came out to support Christian education as a “solid alternative to public school,” but the government has refused to budge from its opposition.

Under Chinese law, all children must attend nine years of compulsory education from elementary school to the end of middle school. But homeschooling is now popularly seen as an alternative among parents opposed to the government curriculum or the country’s exam-oriented education system, according to the online magazine Sixth Tone.

Last March, China’s Ministry of Education urged authorities nationwide to deter non-traditional educational institutions from operating, and threatened to punish parents who send their children to such facilities, the magazine reported.

Meanwhile, schools in China have been teaching children that Christianity is an “evil cult.” According to a 2019 report by Chinese persecution watchdog Bitter Winter, children are being taught to oppose religion, encouraged to question the beliefs of family members and report those closest to them to authorities.

Although China claims that it allows religious freedom, it has been carrying out a crackdown on underground churches and Christian activists for years.

In 2015, more than 1,000 crosses were removed from church roofs and entire church buildings were destroyed across the Zhejiang province.

The Chinese government continued its campaign against Christianity during the country’s coronavirus outbreak by destroying crosses and demolishing a church while people were on lockdown.

On March 13, a church in Guoyang County, Anhui Province saw its cross removed by authorities. A video shared by the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness documented the moment when the crane removed the red cross from the church’s rooftop.

Another church in Huaishang district of the city of Bengbu, Anhui province also had its cross removed at the beginning of March, according to International Christian Concern. Ms. Yao, a local Christian, said the removal was led by the head of the local United Front Department, a Communist Party organ employed to govern religious affairs.

More than 60 million Christians live in China, at least half of whom worship in unregistered, or “illegal” underground churches.

China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.

In addition to Christians, the communist government continues to persecute and monitor members of various religious minorities, including the detention of over 1 million Uighur and other Muslims in western China over the last three years. 

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