WENZHOU, China (Reuters) – When authorities in China’s southeastern city of Wenzhou outlawed Sunday School earlier this year, Christian parents determined their children must still learn about Jesus and the Bible.
Churches in Wenzhou started teaching children in private homes or at other venues. Some billed Sunday School classes as daycare, not education, or moved them to Saturdays, more than a dozen local Christians told Reuters.
Wenzhou, sometimes known as “China’s Jerusalem” due to its sizable Christian community, is at the forefront of a growing standoff between China’s leadership and the country’s devout over religious education for children.The ruling and officially atheist Communist Party has increased efforts to curb the influence of Christianity, tightening restrictions on faith classes and warning against the religion’s “Western” ideas.
But Christians say the resolve of the community in Wenzhou suggests the party will struggle to exert control over the next generation of the country’s 60 million Christians.
In her house, “faith comes first, grades come second,” said one parent surnamed Chen, asking not to use her full name due to the sensitivity of the matter.