(TibetanReview.net, Aug30, 2018) – A ban on children from engaging in religious activities is being enforced throughout mainland China, including especially at Tibetan Buddhist temples, Christian churches, and Islamic mosques in Xinjiang and elsewhere, reported mainichi.jp/English Aug 29.
A revised government rules on religion issued in February this year placed stricter controls on religious groups’ involvement in education while banning minors from religious sites. The report cited people familiar with the situation as saying that since the new rules came out, signboards saying “No minors” started to pop up at Catholic churches in Henan province while members of local self-governance groups began to monitor minors’ entry into masses.
The report cited multiple research institutes as estimating China had some 10 million Catholics, with about 10 percent being in Henan.
On a Sunday morning in late July, residents were gathering for mass at a church in the center of the city of Anyang, northern Henan. Beside the gate to the church stood middle-aged and elderly women all clad in the same red polo shirts. Whenever they found children with parents or teenage girls coming in, the women stopped them, saying, “No children inside,” the report said.
The women were said to be volunteers from among the church’s flock, acting on the order of authorities to watch for minors.
The report said similar volunteers were on watch at another church in the province. It cited followers as saying that after mass they had seen signboards saying “No entry for minors” shortly after the new rule was introduced.
The report cited a number of priests as saying instructions had been issued to churches this past spring to refuse entry to those under 18. An instruction leaked online was started to read, “This issue is an untouchable high-voltage line, and (the instruction) must be thoroughly followed.”
In the Tibet Autonomous Region, minors were instructed earlier this year not to engage in religious acts during summer vacation in an extension of a policy already in force during school days.
Earlier, in Jun 2016, senior officials of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, home to Uyghur Muslims, revealed that they had banned acts of religious faith by minors, the report said.
The report said all schools had launched teaching sessions telling children not to go close to religious places.
It noted that in 2016, President Xi Jinping had told an important meeting on religious policies that policies on religion had “special importance” for national unity. This apparently referred to the predominance of the Islamic faith in of Xinjiang and Buddhism in Tibet, both of which had seen major protests against Chinese rule. With regard to the Catholic Church, the country’s large crowds of underground worshippers owe their allegiance to the Vatican, not the party controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.