The conservative American organization Focus on the Family gained its first major toehold in Chinese classrooms this past week.
The Yunnan provincial education bureau has ordered high schools and universities to teach Focus on the Family's "No Apologies" (无悔今生) strategy for rejecting premarital sex.
Scripted role playing that is part of the "No Apologies" program includes scenes such as these:
Boy: "If you love me, then you'll agree to have sex with me."
Girl: "If you love me then you won't ask me to give up my cherished chastity."
Boy: "I want to dedicate myself to you and only you."
Girl: "If I'm the only one for you then you can wait until we get married."
It is unclear how "No Apologies" ended up getting included in Yunnan's school curriculum – Focus on the Family, which has a Chinese website, is not well-known in China. On the other side of the Pacific it is a well-known, influential and divisive member of the American political landscape.
Founded in 1977 and based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Focus on the Family is one of the most prominent and polemical faces of the American Christian right. The non-profit organization's stated mission is, "to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible by nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide."
Focus on the Family has a lobbying arm called Focus on the Family Action which is registered as a separate non-profit and regularly contributes money to conservative American politicians.
Focus on the Family also promotes its mission with a popular eponymous daily radio program frequently hosted by its founder, psychologist James Dobson—an influential leader in the American conservative Christian movement who is a fixture of conservative media outlets and advised former president George W Bush. The organization strongly opposes abortion.
In 2005 combined revenues of Focus on the Family and its lobbying arm exceeded US$156 million. Focus also appears to be expanding internationally with offices in at least 11 countries outside the US, including Australia, Ireland, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore.
It's too early to know whether the "No Apologies" message will resonate with Chinese youth, but it would appear that there is some overlap between traditional Chinese views on marriage and family and Focus on the Family's agenda.
A professor at Yunnan University's student counseling center told Global Times that young women should not have sex prior to marriage.
"If a girl had sex with her boyfriend, she would become mentally dependent on the boy," Yang said. "It would do no good for her studies and daily life."
Yang's view was echoed by a commenter on a story posted on Yunnan.cn about the new program, who said:
"This way of thinking is very good. Old Master Confucius said as much more than 2,000 years ago. But this step comes a little late, now only using educational materials won't get the job done, things like the internet, television and movies must be controlled."
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