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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Religious Freedom in China? Hardly!

Recently, President Bush visited China and talked about religious freedom there, attending a "legal" church. Also recently, TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) founder Paul Crouch talked about religious freedom in China and emphasized that house churches in China need only register with the government to enjoy freedom "much [like churches here in] the USA". Evangelist Luis Palau also caused quite a stir by encouraging house churches to register with the Chinese government!

Update 2/1/06: Luis Palau issued a statement apologizing for his remarks. You can read about it in my update here.

I don't have time to comment on this in depth, but I did want to make the point that many reputable organizations, such as Voice of the Martyrs can tell you that there is no such thing as true religious freedom in China. And for someone like Paul Crouch or Luis Palau to suggest that a house church registering with the government in China is no different than a church in the USA registering with the federal government for tax purposes (a whole 'nother topic in itself!) is outrageous!

Let's be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in chains (both literally and figuratively) in places like China.

Added comment: By the way, after posting this, I had a thought: Does anyone else see a similarity between someone telling the house churches in China, "All you have to do is register with the government and all this freedom can be yours" and Satan telling Jesus, "All you have to do is bow down and worship me, and all these kingdoms can be yours"?

Until next time,

steve :)

6 comment(s):

Hi Steve!
(here by way of Bob K's blog :)

Could you point me to the article/place where Crouch or Palau suggest that a 'house church registering with the government in China is no different than a church in the USA registering with the federal government for tax purposes...'? I'm curious to understand why they would say something like this.

As for your added comment, I don't think the similarity is easily drawn unless the intent of the speaker in encouraging them to register with the government is to make their suffering end at the sake of disobeying Christ.

By Anonymous Jennifer L, at Tuesday, December 27, 2005 12:41:00 AM  

Jennifer, thank you for stopping by and commenting!

With regard to the comments by Crouch and Palau, if you follow the links that I posted in the article, you can read their words yourself and draw your own conclusion. Your conclusion on reading it may be different, and I'm open to other ways of reading their words.

In the link to Crouch's statement, we find this paragraph:

Dr. Han Wenzao, a precious Christian brother who visited us in California, explained clearly what the problem is. Dr. Han, until recently, was head of the entire Protestant Christian church in China. He told me that if the small "home churches" would simply register with the government their meetings and activities, they would come under the protection of the state! When I expressed great surprise, he went on to say that the Chinese constitution guarantees the freedom of religion much as our USA constitution!

I read that as a downplaying of the effect of registering with the Chinese government in order to be a "protected" church. Unless the reports I am reading from the underground in China are not accurate, and unless the descriptions I have read of the ability (or lack thereof) for registered churches to preach the Gospel freely, the statement made by Crouch in that letter is far from true. The Chinese government seeks to control churches through registration, not protect them!

In the link to the article about Palau, we find these statements:

During a Nov. 19 press conference in Beijing, Palau urged Chinese House Churches to register with the Chinese Communist government to "receive greater freedom and blessings from the government."

Furthermore, Palau compared church registration in China to churches registering in the United States or Argentina in order to pay taxes and receive tax returns.


Again, unless the information I read about the relationship between the Chinese government and Christianity is incorrect, this type of perspective by Palau is rather insensitive.

I appreciate your remarks about my "Added comment", and I admit that the comment may sound very harsh. I don't mean it to be provocative, so much, and I sure am not trying to equate Paul Crouch or Luis Palau with Satan! But I think their comments may be coming from misinformation. And I think the effect of the call for registration is as invalid as Satan's offer to Jesus.

Note that Palau and Crouch both met with government officials and registered church leaders. I would not expect those people to acknowledge the persecution that is still taking place!

God bless!
steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Tuesday, December 27, 2005 9:21:00 AM  

Hmm, that puts a different light on things for sure! Thank you for clearing this up for me. It sounds as if their comments were made in ignorance...or choosing to believe something else, perhaps?

How sad that this is even a conflict at all! This reeks of the past - why does mankind not learn from his sin? (the answer is found in Scripture, I know :) My heart breaks as I think of our brothers and sisters I know are suffering in China. My heart aches to hold the little girl I want to bring home to a loving family.

What a joy it will be when there truly is religious freedom in China! We must pray that God will give our brothers and sisters wisdom to know what God would have them do in regards to registering with the government or not.

In Anguish,

Jennifer L

By Anonymous Jennifer L, at Tuesday, December 27, 2005 11:41:00 AM  

Jennifer,

Well said! I do believe that there is some "wishful thinking" on the part of those who desire to see everyone "get along" in China. One can hardly blame them. (And I did not intend to imply that I was blaming them, so much as sounding an alert to the naive nature of their comments.)

Whether or not true religious freedom ever comes to China, I pray that the believers there will remain faithful to their Lord and Savior. If they are called upon to receive persecution, I pray that the peace of God will flood their hearts.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Tuesday, December 27, 2005 11:49:00 AM  

I cannot wait to meet every precious soul in heaven who was martyred for their faith!

Thank you for your posts! : )

Jennifer L

By Anonymous Jennifer L, at Wednesday, December 28, 2005 11:40:00 PM  

Steve,
I remember actually hearing Paul Crouch say this on TBN. It was said in the context of a trip he had just made in connection with broadcasting rights into China. One really wants to believe the best of people who claim to stand for the gospel, but it just sounded like he was irritated that the house-churches were making his plans difficult. :(

By Blogger Libbie, at Friday, January 06, 2006 9:04:00 AM  

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