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It seems that hardly a week goes by without China ramping up its campaign to mold domestic religious expression to its liking, and with some member of the international media elite taking a hard look at Beijing’s anti-religion policies.
Last week, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper took on the task. It’s grade? Let’s just say it achieved less than a perfect score. I’ll get to the widely circulated story’s (online, that is) limitations in a moment. But first let’s give it what praise it also deserves.
Piece - China - Christians - China - Protestant
The piece focused on China’s Christians, or more accurately, on China’s Protestant Christians.
Still, any story that draws attention to China’s hyper-paranoid approach toward religious expression is, in my book, a good thing, despite its shortcomings.
Point - Home - Pressure - Beijing - Policies
Only by hammering the point home again and again can outside pressure be brought to bear on Beijing’s policies, if, in fact, that’s even currently possible. (For example, don't expect President Donald Trump to ratchet up such pressure; for him and most world leaders relations with China are all about trade and financial investment).
The Guardian story led with the case of the Early Rain Covenant Church, one of China’s so-called “underground,” or non-government approved, congregations. Here’s the story’s top.
October - Pastor - China - Churches - Congregation
In late October, the pastor of one of China’s best-known underground churches asked this of his congregation: had they successfully spread the gospel throughout their city? “If tomorrow morning the Early Rain Covenant Church suddenly disappeared from the city of Chengdu, if each of us vanished into thin air, would this city be any different? Would anyone miss us?” said Wang Yi, leaning over his pulpit and pausing to let the question weigh on his audience. “I don’t know.”
Almost three months later, Wang’s hypothetical scenario is being put to the test. The church in south-west China has been shuttered and Wang and his...
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