Chinese Universities Alarmed by Rise of Proselytization on Campus

Sep 04, 2013 12:18 PM EDT
Chinese scholars are concerned that a new measure of proselytization is being sponsored by some overseas institutions and in the name of religious studies.
Graduates set next to the Chinese flag during a graduation ceremony at Fudan University in Shanghai June 28, 2013. A record high of 6.99 million students are expected to graduate from college this year which places severe pressure on their search for jobs, according to Xinhua News Agency.

NOTE: This article should be read with the understanding that it’s authored by The People’s Daily, a news source edited and censored by the Chinese government. The article details a small study and an “alarming” increase of Christianity on college campuses in China. All this is noted by, a U.S.-based organization that illuminates the persecution of Christians throughout the world.


Chinese scholars are concerned that a new measure of proselytization is being sponsored by some overseas institutions and in the name of religious studies.

Between 2005 and 2009, the John Templeton Foundation in America sponsored the “Science and Religion in Dialogue” lecture series at five Chinese universities, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and Fudan University, according to The People’s Daily.

“Christianity has been growing rapidly in China and most estimates of the number of Christians are far higher, near the 130-150 million mark, than the estimates stated in this article,” reports “Last year, one Christians’ rights group revealed a secret Community Party document calling for a clamp down on evangelism on college campuses across the country.”

According to its website, the John Templeton Foundation, founded in 1987, “serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.” Its founder, the late John Templeton, a devout Presbyterian and philanthropist, was committed to acquiring new spiritual information.

Some in the West are skeptical about and question the foundation’s religious agenda. Some say that it is acting evangelically under false pretenses, according to The People’s Daily.

According to books published in Chinese about the lecture series, most of the speakers invited held a friendly attitude towards Christianity, to say the least. Several of the lecturers came from Calvin College, in Michigan, founded in the “reformed tradition of historic Christianity.”

Books that promote intelligent design or the economics of religion were also translated and published by university presses. In 2004, Tsinghua University Press translated and published Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, by William Dembski, an American philosopher and theologian who is another a proponent of intelligent design.

Between 2003 and 2005, Peking University Press also published a series of translated works about Christian culture. But some of the books included in the series are theological in nature, such as Introducing the New Testament and Introducing the Old Testament by theologian John Drane, asserts The People’s Daily.

According to regulations in China, theological and religious publications can only be published by religious institutions. Public education institutions technically are not allowed to publish such books, but some, most translated works, slip in under the radar under the name of culture or philosophy.

The John Templeton Foundation for instance has given close to $2 million to Purdue University for a “Chinese Spirituality and Society Program” between August 2009 and August 2013, according to its website.

The project aims to promote the social scientific study of religion in China. It supports “research about spiritual capital in China” and provides training to Chinese scholars, reports The People’s Daily.