Authorities monitor churches in order to keep children out

Friday, August 18, 2017

Children meet at a church
summer camp in 2015.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Wenzhou, Zhejiang—Aug. 18, 2017) Local government offices in China’s coastal Zhejiang province recently assigned officials to monitor churches in an attempt to curb the number of children in attendance. In response, Christians argued that the authorities are violating the rights of minors.

County-level departments dispatched officials to more than 100 churches in order to issue a verbal prohibition against teenagers attending church services, church-related summer camps, or Sunday schools and assigned personnel to monitor the churches and their activities. 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.

Article 36 of China’s Constitution stipulates that all Chinese citizens have freedom of belief, and its Regulations on Religious Affairs does not forbid children from attending churches. As a result, church members maintained that children under the age of 18 must be granted their full rights as Chinese citizens, saying that to deny them religion would be to suppress religious freedom.

However, China routinely uses another law that forbids adults from teaching religion to Chinese children to rob them of religious freedom, as demonstrated by similar cases that occurred earlier this summer.

Local Christians speculate that authorities made the announcement verbally rather than on paper because they anticipate opposition, and they are urging mass protest against the new policy in order to safeguard their legal rights and religious beliefs.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those enacted against the children of Zhejiang province, in order to stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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