The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has continued its clampdown on religious activities in the country, banning a number of Christian summer camps organized for children.
In the past several years, the communist government under party leader Xi Jinping has taken steps to prevent children from receiving religious instruction, forbidding children from entering Christian churches or joining Christian groups, barring access to universities for churchgoing youth, and even forcing kindergarten pupils to sign an atheist manifesto, abjuring religious activities of any sort.
Chinese authorities have justified their action by claiming that church attendance and religious instruction keep young persons from developing “a correct worldview and set of values.”
“Minors receiving religious education and formation too early in churches would seriously affect the normal implementation of the education system,” declared one notice from officials.
This summer, Catholics have had to cancel summer camps and disguise bible classes to avoid punishment from Chinese authorities.
Officials sent several warnings to Catholic dioceses in China reminding them of a prohibition on Christian summer camps, and many local churches have responded by forgoing all related activities.
When one diocese openly promoted a summer camp, the government stepped in to ban it, UCANews reported.
Certain parishes, however, have continued organizing camps privately, keeping them out of the public eye and avoiding government attention.
One diocese in the north of China had sought to organize a summer class at a big parish but ended up moving it to a small, rural parish to keep the event below the radar.
Local Christians told UCANews that the CCP is especially concerned about educational activities, so some groups speak only of “summer activities” for children.
One church member who preferred to remain anonymous said the CCP has been brainwashing children for decades, with disastrous results.
In clamping down on the summer camps, the CCP aimed to disconnect children from the Church, he said. This would cut off the Church’s bloodline, so that the CCP could continue manipulating people’s religious beliefs.
Churches have also suffered from informants who tip off the authorities when a parish wishes to organize a summer camp, he said.
In its most recent report on China, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted that the CCP has grown “increasingly hostile toward religion and what it deemed to be ‘foreign’ influences on certain religious groups.”
“Based on the Chinese government’s systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, USCIRF again finds that China merits designation in 2019 as a ‘country of particular concern,’” the report declared.