Optional Bible learning dropped amid controversy

China Daily, April 14, 2011

"Western interference will lower our national confidence and make us feel rootless."

Zhang Xinying, a former deputy director of the Institute of World Religions, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said schools can teach the Bible if they treat it as a purely literary work.

"But education authorities and school administrators must manage the course and assess teachers to make sure the classes avoid preaching," he said.

Zhang said "a great number of cases" exist in which foreign teachers have tried to spread religious beliefs in courses ostensibly about languages and literature.

Ye Xiaowen, former head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, told China Daily that experts are putting together teaching materials to be used in religion courses given to college students in China.

He said a textbook, the country's first of its kind, is to be published early next year. With it, students will be able to study religion in a systematic way.

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