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China: The words ‘God’ and ‘Bible’ banned in textbooks

In banning these words, the Chinese government is clearly trying to limit the possibility of Christianity taking hold among schoolchildren. It has also orchestrated a campaign to turn Christianity into a weak religion that is entirely subservient to the Chinese Communist Party. This is a matter of grave concern for Orthodox Christians in China and all other Christians as well. The Chinese Orthodox Church is in a vulnerable position, as it is not one of the Christian groups recognized by the Chinese government.

Holy Orthodoxy has a three-hundred year history in China, with the first Orthodox Christians coming into the country in 1685. In the 1980s, the Chinese Orthodox Church began to experience a revival. Pray that it not be snuffed out. The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, requests once again that the Chinese government end these repressive measures, grant official recognition to the Chinese Orthodox Church, and give full religious freedom to all the Christians of that nation.

“The words ‘God’ and ‘Bible’ banned in Chinese textbooks,” UCA News, August 8, 2019:

Foreign textbooks translated into Mandarin for sixth-grade students have expunged religious references, according to media reports. The removal of any mention of “God” and “Bible” have especially horrified Christians in the country.

The concern for the impact on children’s beliefs and thoughts follows news that four classic stories published by the People’s Education Press have had words offensive to the authorities changed or deleted. They include “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen, “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe and “Vanka” by Anton Chekhov.

Peter Gao, a Catholic who was concerned enough to speak publicly, told ucanews.com that previously, when Chinese authorities demolished churches and crosses, and banned minors from entering churches, they “hypocritically used the so-called law to suppress the Church. Now they simply remove religious vocabulary from world literature masterpieces.”

Gao went further, claiming that the latest move represented a persecution by the authorities against the freedom of religious belief.

“No matter which law or regulation it refers to, I am afraid that its shamefulness cannot be justified,” Gao added.

An unfaithful rendition

The Ministry of Education says its inclusion of foreign literary masterpieces in schools’ curricula is aimed at facilitating students’ understanding of other countries’ culture.

However, whereas “The Little Match Girl” originally reads “When a star falls, a soul ascends to God,” it has been changed to “When a star falls, this person leaves this world.” In “Robinson Crusoe,” the three Bibles in the shipwreck are changed into “several books” while in Vanka, the word “Christ” is deleted entirely.

The decision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to change the original text has not only angered Christians but also caused discontent in the education sector.

Kelly, an elementary school teacher, told ucanews.com that she was very surprised at the revisions and had never heard of a country revising the world’s classics.

“If I’m the one teaching this lesson, I really don’t know what to tell the children,” she said. “If in the future they come to know that what I’m teaching today is different from the original, how will I face their questions?”

She also suggested that such a move would strangle children’s quest for knowledge and understanding. “I really don’t know what kinds of textbooks children will encounter in the future and how they will be educated. It’s too horrible,” she added….

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