Our study examined the respective relationships between two components of higher education in mainland China—science education and political indoctrination—and the religiosity of university students. Using a cross-sectional, representative sample of about 1700 college students in Beijing, we found first that students studying natural/applied sciences were less likely to perceive Protestantism, Catholicism, and Islam as plausible and less likely to have supernatural belief, relative to students in humanities/social sciences. In addition, the more students positively evaluated the political education courses—which indicates students’ acceptance of political indoctrination—the less likely they reported Protestantism and Catholicism as being plausible. Nevertheless, neither science education nor political indoctrination was associated with the perceived plausibility of Buddhism and Daoism or the worshipping behavior of students. We discuss the implications of these findings in light of the secularization debate and the research on education, religion, and state atheism.


This is the Publisher PDF of Lu, Yun, Miao Li and Fenggang Yang. 2018. “Shaping the Religiosity of Chinese University Students: Science Education and Political Indoctrination.” Religions. 9:309. It is published CC-BY and is available at DOI: 10.3390/rel9100309.


higher education; religiosity; science education; political indoctrination; atheism

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