God's Model Citizen: The Citizenship Education Movement of the YMCA and Its Political Legacy

Journal Article

Chinese Christians in the 1920s faced pressure from a new republic that demanded the loyalty of its citizens despite lacking a proper knowledge of the meaning of the term. Progressive Christians associated with the YMCA soon launched the Citizenship Education Movement in 1924 as they tried to combine Christian virtue with China's broader national demands. While their association of modern citizenship with virtue cultivation was not new, these Christians did attempt something unique, which was to define a good citizen as a world citizen, whose belief in God meant one is loyal ultimately to certain universal values instead of the nation-state. As the Movement continued, the relationship between one's devotion to these higher values and that to the Chinese nation-state remained a complex and often competitive one. Although the Movement ended largely with the end of its visionary, Yu Rizhang, its momentum was harnessed by the Nationalist Party in the New Life Movement. The latter, however, omitted the language of God and universal values at the same time as it injected the nation-state, and the Party in particular, as the sole receiver of loyalty and granter of privilege. Thus the decade-long history of the YMCA's Citizenship Education Movement testifies to the association between one's religious devotion and an internationalist understanding of citizenship.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bai, Y

Published Date

  • March 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 42 - 62

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1750-0230

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1354-9901

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3366/swc.2020.0281

Language

  • en