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American conservative group makes inroads into China's classrooms

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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.

Is James Dobson the next Confucius?
Is James Dobson the next Confucius?

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."

James Dobson image: Wikipedia

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"Nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide." is FOTF's official mission.

One could of course argue that the family is a natural development in human evolution since we in order to function efficiently as upright bi-pedal beings developed a narrow birth canal hence our offspring needed to be born early before the skull grew too large. Ergo we had to devote lots of resources from both father and mother to allow the child to develop sufficiently to take care of itself. Bingo,, the family was born, but let's save that discussion for some other day.

Now I wonder what the -supposedly atheist- central government in Beijing has to say when Hu and Wen discover that Yunnan has let fundamentalist Christian nutjobs influence the educational system.

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"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."

-Why don't you just mind your own damn business professor Yang? Who gave you the right to morally lecture people and dictate how they live their lives and what exactly qualifies you to do such a thing? Nice sexist view towards women you display by the way. Obviously females are incapable of thinking for themselves so you and other fools like you have to do it for them. How the hell can this guy be allowed to teach at a university??

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Some dumb sheep said on Yunnan.cn:

"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."

I wouldn't even know where to begin with this one.

Dobson-type abstinence programs don't work, except to promote anal intercourse. Confucius et al. married their children off pre-puberty so that they would be able to start having sex when their bodies told them to.

Astonishing. This man is not the next Confucius. He is part of the USA New Christian Right. No coincidence they choose to set up here in the far south west of China. By the time Beijing realize the implications the movement will have become malignant.

I don't think high schools and universities are going to have a week long session of role-playing. It will be just another pamphlet given to students along with the current material, and then likely never be discussed in class beyond a few minutes.

Besides that, discussing family values in high school and college is a wee bit late. Heck, in my rural conservative hometown we started studying sex education in 4th grade.

Another point is that the English should probably be "addicted to" and not "mentally dependent on"

Well they can't exactly preach orgies in the street, can they? Perhaps they should make bit.ly/a00Wq3 required reading.

I'm pleased to hear this.
Replacing one dogmatic system of beliefs with another is no better nor worse in my opinion.

At best perhaps Chinese girls will think twice before getting lead into a situation where they end up having to get an abortion because Chinese men by and large despise the use of condoms.

Go to any hospital catering to women in Kunming. The one on Qing Yun Jie isn't too bad - and see how many dozens of young girls are there alone day in and day out getting abortions because they were either uneducated or pressured into a bad situation.

Doesn't matter if they're Christian, either. Good advice is good advice, and girls playing it smart when it comes to a man's advances can only be a good thing. It's just a shame they couldn't simply teach this to kids in school. Regardless, quit whining heathens.

This is Jesus H. Christ signing off, see you at the gates of judgment boys.

Lesterness: Are you joking about the anal sex comment and Confucius prepubescent marriage comment? If not, I'd like to know where you've gotten your information.

I find it interesting that a number of recent news articles featured here ("100 most wanted criminals in Yunnan", Gang members sentenced, divorce rate increase in XiShan district, etc.) are examples of morality/values problems in society. What makes certain behaviors "wrong" and other behaviors "a matter of opinion"? I'm a foreigner but I don't spend much time around other foreigners. I've talked to Chinese women who are reaping the consequences of not knowing clearly the relationship between love and sex, such as: physical abuse, poverty (having children and then husband deserting) and on and on. I Googled FOTF and read a little about the no apologies program in Singapore. Looks like: good judgement, self control, integrity, healthy relationships, communication skills with parents, resisting peer pressure, and respecting yourself and others, are good topics to bring to high schoolers! - better late than never! In my motherly opinion of both a son and daughter now in their twenties - both sexes need to learn self control - emotionally and physically, or it will haunt their later relationships. Danmairen: what is your definition of a fundamentalist Christian nutjob? And....I'm definately going to further investigate your evolutionary explanation of the family.

Ouyang: how about "emotionally dependent on".

Cheers!

"Looks like: good judgement, self control, integrity, healthy relationships, communication skills with parents, resisting peer pressure, and respecting yourself and others, are good topics to bring to high schoolers!"

I agree. My point is that these values can easily be taught without the influence of a religious group claiming some sort of god given patent on them.

The FOTF refer to itself as fundamentalist Christian. While I shake my head at all the different religions I reserve the right to step it up a notch and use nutjob for people who are fundamentalists (here in the sense of taking the ramblings in the bible literally as facts and truths).

哎呀我的天, I am seriously disappointed in the lacking communist ideals of the Yunnan provincial government. Isn't this indeed completely against the Party line?

Sharing information about healthy relationships and self control with middle school kids might obviously be important and highly desirable; I seriously doubt the abilities of highly religious far right group of fanatics to carry out this task in an integer way! Why don't people like this stay at home? It's bad enough that they are so influential in their home countries...

I don't care where FOTF folks go to church. I have no problem with teaching "good judgement, self control, integrity, healthy relationships, communication skills with parents, resisting peer pressure, and respecting yourself and others", but I am no fan of this organization.

Do you want to know what they're spending all that lobbying money on? It's on fighting to make abstinence only education the only form of sex education in American schools.

Do you know what else they spend it on? Convincing congressmen to cut off AIDS and reproductive health aid money to any country that allows abortions in public clinics.

I really don't care what people believe about God and the universe. But it offends my American sensibilities when people try to impose those views on others.

When the Ministry of Education finds out about this organization's religious agenda, not only will they kick them out, they'll impose a whole bunch of new rules making it harder for foreign education materials to be adopted in China, because they'll view all foreign education institutions as possible guerrilla fronts for religious insurgencies. Thanks a lot, guys.

Schools should teach knowledge, skills and more important thinking itself, and not neurotic dogmas. I think China can do fine without religion and hope for am asap correction of the curriculum.

Yet another hypocrite fundamentalist Christian succumbs to his inner homosexual. Loudmouth overcompensating in public equals schadenfreude when caught. I like the Shanghaiist's no-nonsense story on the whole deal.

OMG Five years ago I left the US largely to get away from right wing Christian nut jobs like these guys. I thought I had made my escape and here they are infiltrating the Yunnan school system. How could this have happened? Truly sad and disheartening!

@bochi
couldnt agree more.

usually guys like dobson are just as corrupt and crooked as local leaders. doesnt it always just boil down to face and money?

what we all need is glenn beck to tell us what is right and wrong. all this thinking for ourselves crap is just too hard.

Washington Post has some background info, incl. how the FOTF nested inside the Yunnan Ministry of Education and the motives for "cooperation" by the Chinese side. Very evil indead. Maybe it's time for a letter to Beijing.

www.washingtonpost.com/[...]

Yes! A letter to Beijing! I'm really pissed off about this and I'm very happy to see all the other indignant comments!

I heard it might be Zhang Zulin that pushed for this, right? Being so Christian and all?

Like @Bochi I found it refreshing when first arriving in Yunnan to find a relative absence of creepy religion. Ghosts and spirits abound north of Lijiang but non of those virulent Christian fairy stories which serve to put the mythical Christian God on a pedestal above the family (and Party!) thus serving to place further strain on the fabric of society traditionally underpinned by respect for elders and ancestors.

I was astonished, saddened and even thought the story may be a hoax. Now having read the Washington Post story I can't help but laugh.

If awareness can be raised, young men are forced to compromise by using condoms and young couples can avoid unwanted pregnancies then great, but the darker side of of this movement is no more likely to catch on than a Kunming car horn ban. This should turn out no more vexing than seeing a Chinese kid filling his face with a Big Mac, swilling it down with a Coca-Cola and wearing an oversized baseball cap back the front. Amway and pyramid selling is probably a worse import.

Perhaps we should all relax and give Yunnan government more credit. Beside which, for the foreigners on here it's hardly our business to interfere. Maybe we should even apologise, after all, whose fault is it the Bible fairy stories sold more copies than Hans Christian Andersen and then served to fuel the fanatical religious wars which continue to consume the planet?

我非常喜欢爱家》,作为一位大学教师,希望看到一些关于大学生的心理情感话题也盼望实际参与一些活动
——天津许先生

Sorry I meant Qiu He, not Zhang Zulin...

Psycho, I'm semi-joking, semi-serious. If Salon.com is to be believed, oral/anal are becoming more common in US high schools, thanks to the Bushies "abstinence" education policies. As for early marriages, surely everyone knows that Chinese people married very early before 1949? Some places, parent arranged marriages between infants, and then raised them together. Some still do. For that matter, most people everywhere before modern times married quite young, by modern US standards.

The truth is, once into puberty, it's unnatural for people not to be having sex regularly. If you want to counter or modify Nature, fine, but you need to do so more rationally than say "don't do it! don't do it!" Teach'em to use condoms. Think of it as the lesser of evils, like the Just War. (Born-agains in the USA are rarely squeamish about war, only sex).

BBC World Service recently did a two part documentary on Christianity in China. Apparently some of the national level leaders have been suckered into believing that there's some kind of connection between Protestantism and development/wealth/power. The loathsome Health&Wealth Gospel is just a step away!

Lots of educated Chinese people are quite blind to the flaws and problems of US life.

Frankly, the US has a lot to learn from Confucian morality.

"what is your definition of a fundamentalist Christian nutjob?"

Someone like Dobson.

I'm old enough to remember when Southern Baptists included White supremacy as a *BIG* part of their Gospel. I remember lynching, too. It was curiously popular in those regions were Southern Baptists were very common. The usual offence: being Black and too successful.

I believed many marriage and family need healthy relationship. And to have that healthy relationship need proper education otherwise you never know where your life is heading to. Looking at the alarming divorce rate, abortions,broken families, such teaching will surely benefit to those who wants promising future.

Whatever is beneficial and profitable to people is to be desired by all.
Or we will become the victim sooner or later.

That's all find, Yunzhe, but you won't get what you want from Focus on the Family or any of the US born-again fanatic groups. It's not as if born-agains in the US have lower divorce rates, etc.

You're absolutely right, Yunzhe. Why not take all that is good from wherever it comes from?

Sometimes the sick would rather the whole world join them in the hospital, rather than helping people to avoid the same fate.

Dobson, is actually not all that radical... he just stands for traditional moral values (actually very similar to Confusion values in these respects)... I think the West used to have stronger values like these, but now you have to search a little harder to find them... I think the West looks like it is on it's way down due to it's loss of these and other solid time-tested values & morals.

As a Confucian, I approve of the message of family values. We share a lot of common ground with conservative American Christian culture.

However, they should not use this as an opportunity to propagate Christianity.

DaweiTe: Your confusion about Confusion (sic), Confucian and crack-pot Christians is understandable. I would stick with Confucius, or better still, Kongfuzi since 'Confucianism' (associated with the Western variant spelling) is in the process of being hijacked by nut jobs.

I noticed that the majority of people on this thread don't have a problem with the advice that is being forced on youngsters, they only have a problem with who produced the program.

So let me say, this crap about "chastity", marriage, "I am the only one for you", etc etc is an ideological straight jacket all of which can lead people into misery just as easily as sex can. They already fit pretty well into an alienated and still patriarchal society, where physical abuse, lies, and secret mistresses are the norm.

Nowhere in that "good advice" does it teach about anatomy, STDS, birth control, equality between men and women, friendship, and the dating or sexual practices of various historical societies, as well as the behind the scenes, diverse reality of their own. It also doesn't teach that sex is awesome, very educational, and that most people will not stay with their first sex partner.
The idea of chastity doesn't protect girls, it is part of a game well stacked against them, a burden that will punish them. Telling girls to play this card is basically telling them that they are powerless.

How about " If you really loved me, you would know I don't want to get pregnant at age 16, so you would respect me enough to bring a box of condoms." ?

Or "You don't need to say you love me, and we probably wont end up married. But lets live and enjoy ourselves just to piss off those moralistic idiots, get in bed now!"

I want to add that while a loss of values (by consumer culture) is partly what produces the recent trend of fundamentalism, Confucianism, and these type of christian groups, they are not the answer.

The idea presented by "family values" advocates is that you should choose A. emotional repression, shame, chauvinism, authoritarianism, conformity and sacrificing the present for the future, because if you don't you will have to choose B. Total selfish hedonism, addiction, lack of accountability

IT IS RIDICULOUS. It is not reality.

Most young people can sense this, I hope.

Confucian and (reinvented) "christian" values, have been a disaster, and will solve nothing. In fact the early Christians had it right-sexual freedom, sexual equality, ecstasy, all within the context of meaning and community service. And by the way, Jesus said you should forsake your family, so family values are a confused idea for Christians ( I am not one myself).

Marriage? Divorces are BOOMING here in China, yearly skyrocketing like no other country.

The women are taking the initiative of the divorce and the majority of them married as VIRGINS!
IMHO sexual education (condom use), yes. Chastity, hell no!

Chinese parents of girls love the idea.
#1: It's american and they love american concepts.
2# Chastity increases the girls chances of engaging men into marriage (old trick) and therefore partaking from men's assets permanently (even in the case of divorce).

It's a win-win situation nowadays. Girl marries virgin, has babies, gets divorced, get alimony, enjoys single-mom cougar life.

No wonder we'll be seeing more of these trends.

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