The religious restrictions imposed by the government of China are some of the harshest on earth. However, they don’t only affect adult believers — many of the most restrictive policies aim to stifle the faith of young followers of Jesus.
“One of the rules that have always been in their law is that you cannot proselytize or you cannot convert somebody under the age of 18,” explained Erik Burklin, according to Mission News Online.
Prior to the law being enforced, many parents were instructing their “children come to church and many churches started what we would call Sunday school classes,” Burklin added. “They would use that time to teach children Bible verses and teach them Christian songs and so forth.”
Now, however, the communist authorities have started to tighten the leash on youth ministry activities. “Many churches have been notified by Religious Affairs Bureau heads that you can no longer conduct Sunday school classes in your churches,” Burklin explained. “They even put signage up in the entrance of some churches to indicate that.”
The censorship of religion is part of China’s wider bid to “sinicize” religion and nurture a greater devotion to President Xi Jinping.
In March, Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed this commitment to the= national legislature, declaring that “we must fully implement the [Communist] Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China,” according to the South China Morning Post.
Government actions include the relentless persecution of the underground church and a bolstering of President Xi’s cult of personality among rural Christian communities. In essence, government officials want the people to pledge allegiance to the President and see Jesus Christ as a conflicting interest that threatens national security.
As such, the state-mandated church is heavily censored and unable to practice many of the fundamental aspects of the faith.