Christian Post: Christians in Hong Kong feeling pressure from mainland China

The Christian Post
By Lorraine Caballero, Christian Post contributor
August 29, 2015 | 7:18 am

Christians in Hong Kong are now feeling pressure from authorities in China after the city has enjoyed freedom from the mainland for quite some time.

(L-R) Former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong,
Cardinal Joseph Zen stands with Occupy Central civil
disobedience founders, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, prfessor of
sociology at Chinese University Chan Kin-man and law
professor at the University of Hong Kong Benny Tai.
December 03, 2014.

(Photo:Reuters/Bobby Yip)

Reverend Philip Woo and other pastors in Hong Kong have been reprimanded by officials from the mainland over their alleged violation of China’s policy against unpermitted religious training. Christians in China have been prohibited from participating in Christian events in Hong Kong for fear that they would be “making trouble,” according to the Free Beacon.

Woo fears that China has become stricter when it comes to religion. In March, 100 Chinese citizens were barred from attending a Christian gathering in Hong Kong in which over 2,000 ministers participated. The event was hosted by California-based organization China Ministries International.

Christianity has experienced a rapid growth in China in recent years as the Communist Party has become more tolerant of religious practices outside state-controlled churches. There are now at least 67 million Christians in the mainland. But things have taken a different turn recently after Chinese President Xi Jinping began a crackdown on civil society and launched a campaign to remove crosses from Christian establishments, The New York Times reports.

Rev. Woo was summoned across the border for a meeting with the State Administration for Religious Affairs in which the officials ordered him to stop using the Internet to recruit seminary students and training his mainland students in Hong Kong. Christians from the mainland have long been crossing the border to attend Sunday school, church seminars and gatherings, and enjoy their religious freedom.

“Many pastors are worried,” Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement executive director Rev. Wu Chi-wai said. “Some are reconsidering their work in the mainland.”

The new campaign against Christianity could potentially worsen China’s already tense ties with Hong Kong. Last year, thousands of activists took to the streets to protest against Beijing’s plan to interfere with the city’s elections, the report adds.

As of now, Rev. Woo has stopped the activities of his organization in Shenzhen and relocated his staff to escape government scrutiny.

There are some Christian leaders, however, who believe that China is still open to other religions and that Rev. Woo’s experience was an isolated case.

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Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
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