(LifeSiteNews) — A Chinese province has increased its stranglehold on religion by requiring parents of kindergarteners to sign a pledge renouncing their faith.
The City of Wenzhou in the Chinese Province of Zhejiang sent parents of kindergarten schoolchildren a “Pledge Form of Commitment for Family Not To Hold Religious Beliefs,” the human rights and religious liberty advocacy group ChinaAid reported. According to the group, a preschool teacher in Wenzhou confirmed it is the first such mandate in the province.
The pledge was issued by schools earlier this month to parents and guardians of students and included numerous commitments to which they had to agree. The pledge wholly proscribed any religious beliefs and practice, with signatories affirming that they “do not hold a religious belief, do not participate in any religious activities, and do not propagate and disseminate religion in any locations.” The pledge also enjoined “exemplary observance of the Party discipline and the country’s laws and regulations,” and instructed parents to “never join any… cult organizations.”
One teacher in Wenzhou revealed to ChinaAid that “in the past, the higher-level education department made it compulsory for kindergartens not to be superstitious and not to participate in cult organizations but did not mandate kindergarten children’s families not to believe in religion or participate in any religious activities.”
According to ChinaAid, the city of Wenzhou is one of the most vibrant Christian regions in mainland China. Its population numbers close to 750,000 people, with about 10 percent of the population Christian. This number has increased over the last decade. In efforts to curb the growth of Christianity, in 2014, the Communist government began tearing down and removing crosses in a large-scale persecution that went unabated for more than two years. Then in 2017, minors were outright forbidden from attending church services or even entering a church.
The latest crackdown on parents of kindergarteners comes as China takes its nationwide surveillance and control of religion to a new extreme with the rollout of a new “Smart Religion” app that will allow the Communist government to know exactly who takes part in any officially recognized religious service.
In comments to LifeSiteNews on the CCP persecution of Christians and its move to increase surveillance and control of religion, China expert Steven Mosher pointed out that in a December 2021 speech at the National Conference on Work Related to Religious Affairs, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping “emphasized that ‘religion and religious organizations must be actively guided to adapt to socialist society,’ and that those working on ‘religious affairs’ within the Party must take the Sinicization of religion as their major task.”
Mosher summed up the task of Sinicization as the absolute control of all religions by the Chinese Communist Party. “And lest there be any misunderstanding that Sinicization simply means making modest adaptions to Chinese culture, he [Xi Jinping] stated this: ‘Sinicization means that all religious communities should be led by the Party, controlled by the Party, and support the Party,’” Mosher explained.
Mosher warned that this meant the total exclusion of the Catholic Church from China. “There is no room in this formulation for the Catholic Church, or any religious organization in China, to operate independently of Communist Party control,” Mosher declared. “In fact, the Party his made it clear that any organization that attempts to do so will be annihilated.”
The increased persecution also comes as the bishop of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow, SJ, has signaled cooperation with the Communist-run Chinese “Catholic” Patriotic Association (CPA), the official state-controlled church in China that runs parallel to the underground Roman Catholic Church. Chow will visit the bishop of Beijing, who is president of the schismatic Patriotic Association, in April.
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