Chinese Catholics

Religious persecution: Why not cover all groups feeling Beijing's wrath, not just Protestants?

Religious persecution: Why not cover all groups feeling Beijing's wrath, not just Protestants?

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.

The piece focused on China’s Christians, or more accurately, on China’s Protestant Christians.

In this regard, the story was passable. It included the current talk out of China that the government intends to rewrite the Bible — though just which version is left unnamed — to suit its propaganda purposes. (In September, the online, evangelical website the Christian Post reported that both testaments were to be reworked to the government's liking, meaning more in line with its policies.)

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.

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.

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 wife, Jiang Rong, remain in detention after police arrested more than 100 Early Rain church members in December.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

News alert: Vatican-China talks on bishop appointments could (in theory) yield results

News alert: Vatican-China talks on bishop appointments could (in theory) yield results

A diplomatic dance between China and the Vatican -- coming in the midst of new moves by Beijing to further control religious expression within its borders, and its population in general -- could reach some sort of conclusion this month.

But for some reason the story has, shockingly, received relatively little play in American news outlets. How could that be? Oh, yeah! The all-consuming presidential election campaign. Can't forget that.

So what's going on?

Beijing and Rome have been cautiously negotiating over giving the Vatican a small say -- the emphasis being on "small" -- in the appointment of bishops for Chinese Catholics.

It's a complicated tale that's been unfolding over the past weeks while the American press has been regurgitating news, both real and imagined, concerning Clinton-Trump.

Let's do a bit of unpacking.

This Guardian story from late October provides a succinct overview. It opens as follows:

Please respect our Commenting Policy