The Chinese government is creating "church-free zones" around schools, prompting some believers to fear authorities are attempting to "sever the roots so that the next generation loses its faith."
Bitter Winter magazine, which reports on Christian persecution in China, said it recently obtained a copy of the document, titled "Implementation Plan on the Special Governance of Private Christian Gathering Sites" in the northern Shanxi Province.
Another document, issued by the Religious Affairs Bureau, states: "All private Christian gathering sites around universities and colleges, as well as on-campus activity sites, are to be shut down in accordance with the law. Criticism and (re)education of participating teachers and students is to be carried out by the school authorities."
Authorities are also requiring places of worship to submit the names of their youth members, leading some believers to question whether the government will use the information to affect their employment prospects.
One believer who wasn't named told the outlet that by "being so strict in preventing minors from believing in God, the Chinese Communist Party is seeking to sever the roots so that the next generation loses its faith."
Bitter Winter notes that under the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, the Chinese government's "control over the religious faith of minors has reached its highest level since the Cultural Revolution."
"In addition to forbidding religious facilities near schools, the regulations mandate investigating the beliefs of students and their parents; prohibiting minors from believing in God; and closing Sunday schools."
In December, more than 60 police officers and officials stormed a children's Bible class at Rongguili Church in Guangzhou and confiscated church property, including 4,000 books.
In February, a priest in Hebei province who asked to remain anonymous told ucanews.com that authorities had asked clergymen in some parts of the province to post signs prohibiting minors from entering religious venues, prayer houses and other church premises.
"When minors enter internet bars, the government and police turn a blind eye. However, they are becoming very strict in prohibiting minors from entering religious venues. It is ridiculous," a local Christian told the outlet.
Despite such persecution, the Gospel continues to spread at an unprecedented rate, as an increasing number of parents are "begging" teachers to teach their children about Jesus.
Speaking to CBN News, Sean Elgut, the headmaster of Veritas Christian Academy of Virginia, revealed that Christian schools are on the rise in China. While many Chinese are atheist, or Buddhist, most parents are open to Christianity, and some even encourage their children to learn all they can about Christ.
"Chinese parents start to realize Christian education is beyond textbooks. The parents want their kids to live with faith. They are begging us to teach them about Jesus," Elgut said.
In addition to teaching Christian values, teachers spend quality time with students in hopes of leading them to Christ: "Time is important. We want to spend more time with them, just like Jesus with His disciples. He had time for them and taught them," he said.