Christian churches must register with the Chinese government to be considered legitimate, and the government has decided to crack down on those who are both unregistered and providing a Christian education.
China startled Christians in September, banning Christian education for children and unregistered church worship “as if intending to eliminate all house churches at once”.
In Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province on the eastern coast, children were specifically prohibited from attending church services, with local officials ordering churches to cancel all activities involving teenagers. Elementary and middle school staff members told parents not to allow them to attend Sunday worship services or other church events, China Aid said.
“For a long time, teenagers and students have not been allowed to participate in religious activities,” a local Christian identified only as Zhang told China Aid, referring to the law that forbids children from attending religious events. “However, the [official, registered] Three-Self Churches and house churches would usually hold summer camps during the summer vacation.”
*Now the government is emphasizing that even Sunday school classes are prohibited, he said, adding, “the government’s major intention is to shut down the Sunday schools.”
“Outraged, the Chinese Christians argued that the government had violated its own laws on protecting minors, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and China’s religious freedom regulations,” China Aid reported.
Article 36 of China’s Constitution stipulates that all Chinese citizens have freedom of belief, and its Regulations on Religious Affairs do not forbid children from attending worship services, according to China Aid.
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