School in China Requires Students to Disclose Their Religious Beliefs

February 11, 2021 Updated: February 16, 2021

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities in one Chinese city are mandating that school students disclose their religious beliefs, according to a Chinese parent who recently moved to the United States. He spoke with The Epoch Times and expressed concern that China could be seeing another wave of religious persecution.

Yan Tao, a new Chinese immigrant to Los Angeles and whose daughter had attended primary school in China, recently received a notification from a chat group on popular Chinese social media platform WeChat. It is a group for parents at his daughter’s school. The message sent by the head teacher stated: “According to the notice of the municipal Party committee office and the municipal education bureau, schools are requested to immediately conduct statistics on the status of students’ faith.” The teacher repeatedly emphasized that students with religious beliefs must contact the teacher immediately. Yan was very surprised, but also worried that the Chinese communist regime would again carry out large-scale religious persecution.

Epoch Times Photo
Screenshot of the WeChat group. All the parents responded that their children do not believe in religion when asked by the school administrator. (Provided to The Epoch Times)

Yan recalled that the Chinese education system teaches the communist idea of materialism. Yan said that teachers would indoctrinate students with the message: “People who believe in religion lose their freedom because all religions are ‘superstitions’ and deceive the ignorant people.”

He said, “In fact, those are made up by the Communist Party. In fact, on the contrary, in countries with freedom of religion, people care for each other more, social behavior is more orderly, more free.”

After living in mainland China for many years, Yan gradually realized that the intense competition in Chinese society is caused by people losing their religious faith.

Since coming into power in 1949, the CCP has launched political indoctrination campaigns to solidify its rule. The authoritarian regime is “grooming” the youth of China, from as early as kindergarten, on how to monitor and brainwash relatives with the “right ideas and thoughts” rooted in atheism, reported Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China.

According to another report by Bitter Winter, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “forcefully promoting patriotic education” to indoctrinate the youth with the communist ideologies. When he visited a primary school in Chenzhou city in the central province of Hunan on Sept. 16, 2020, he stressed ingraining the “red gene” in students and to “pass down the revolutionary cause from generation to generation.”

Before moving to the United States, Yan had no religious beliefs. He said: “Because of the communist atheist education, when we were young, we always had some negative perceptions of religions.” After immigrating to Los Angeles, Yan was invited by a friend to attend several church activities. He found that he felt very fulfilled being part of that community. He also saw the people trusted and helped each other—from renting a house, buying a car, to finding schools for their children to attend.

Epoch Times Photo
Yan Tao calls for religious freedom in China. Los Angeles, California on February, 2021. (Provided by the interviewee)

After the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, broke out in China in late 2019 and became a pandemic, the international community has been severely affected. Yan noticed that religious beliefs could offer comfort and hope when people are in despair. “When people are suffering, they need religious support the most. The CCP must be afraid that the people are seeking religious beliefs. In order to maintain stability, it will crack down on religion even more during the pandemic,” he said.

Yan stated that the CCP uses all methods possible to destroy people’s religious beliefs and infringe upon religious freedom. He mentioned that his wife’s friend was dismissed from her job because of her belief in Falun Gong, a meditation practice that is severely persecuted by the Chinese regime. “She [wife’s friend] is a particularly good person … people don’t dare to talk about it [the persecution] openly, even among friends. Everyone is worried about getting into trouble. Because there are relatives and friends in the family who practice Falun Gong, they will be investigated.” He said that during the household registration census, local police also asked residents if people have religious beliefs or if they knew Falun Gong practitioners.

The CCP uses its power to manipulate public opinion and to pressure and silence people collectively, Yan said. “It’s so terrible that you can’t even mention it. From this you can tell how severe the CCP’s persecution is and how fearful people are in general,” he added.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is composed of meditative exercises and a set of teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It grew in popularity in the 1990s, with 70 million to 100 million adherents in China by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time.

Threatened by its popularity, the CCP launched a systematic elimination campaign in July 1999. Since then, millions have been detained inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities, with hundreds of thousands tortured while incarcerated, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.

Yan believes that the Chinese authorities’ recent request for schools to investigate students’ religious beliefs shows that the CCP is afraid that it will eventually be overthrown by religious believers and those who seek freedom.

He said, “They [the CCP] are eager to know what every Chinese believes in. They want to kill all religions, which shows that they [the CCP] know how weak they are.” 

Xu Xiuhui and Deksha Devnani contributed to this report.