Chinese officials outraged at Genesis account of creation in textbooks

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Students like these have had access to a portion of the biblical account of Genesis in their textbooks for the past 10 years. No one noticed until recently when "outraged" critics blasted the combination of religion and education. | REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Christian Examiner) – The Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences (BAES) has compiled a textbook for seventh grade Chinese students that includes parts of the Book of Genesis, but that doesn't mean the communist regime there is suddenly alright with God and the Bible.

The Hindu reports that the education leaders in Beijing are still firmly atheist, but are using the textbook to enlighten students on the religious beliefs held dear by so many westerners.

"(We) added some extracts from the Bible's Book of Genesis into the textbook to broaden students' horizons and introduce them to Western myths," a BAES employee and a selection consultant for the country's education authorities told the Beijing Youth Daily.

Ironically, the textbook is not new, the paper reported. It has been used in Chinese language classes since 2006 and also includes several ancient "Chinese myths."

The BAES said the textbook went unnoticed until the content was recently brought to the attention of some "outraged" officials who believe religion should not be included in education.

One commentator, Wang Xiaoshi, said the text violates China's education laws because all textbooks should promote national unity.

A professor at Jinan University, however, told the Global Times that people shouldn't see the inclusion of a religious text as part of a nefarious plan.

"The basic purpose of education is to offer systematic knowledge of human culture, both domestic and foreign," Yao Xinyoung, who teaches in the Chinese Department at the university, said.

Not all Chinese, especially those who grew up under the purge of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, want textbooks to even entertain western ideals. They fear, the Times said, that any reflection on the West may blunt Chinese patriotism.

Another professor, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Times that "some people have misunderstood the priority of Chinese teaching."

"Some people still hold old-fashioned ideas that a Chinese textbook should mostly comprise patriotic ideological content, without noticing that the priority of Chinese teaching is to cultivate humanistic qualities in students," the unnamed professor said.