China Aid Association
Posted: 24 October, 2007
Topics in this story: house church , olympics , persecution , religious freedom
(China (MNN) ― Nov 9, 2007) The Communist Party of China amended its Constitution this week to include the mention of “religion.”
It was adopted on Sunday at the closing session of the 17th CPC National Congress. The resolution said, in part: “To incorporate into its Constitution the principles and policies the Party has formulated for guiding efforts to strengthen the work related to ethnic and religious affairs, among others, is conducive to their full implementation and getting better results in the Party’s work in this area.”
Although religion was previously mentioned in the Constitution, China Partner Ministries’ Erik Burklin says, “I think it’s maybe their attempt to show the rest of the world that China is open towards those who have religious backgrounds or would like to practice their religious faith.”
As the host country of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, China has pledged to offer religious services for foreigners arriving for the Games. The motivation may lie in repairing an image that’s been badly tarnished by reports of repression, arrests and persecution of numerous house churches. Burklin says, “I think they want to show to the rest of the world that ‘we are a friendly nation, we are a country that welcomes all kinds of people from around the world.'”
There have been reports that China restricted the printing and sale of Bibles. The State Administration of Religious Affairs said there have been state subsidies and other preferential policies that show differently. Burklin agrees. He says China, with 16 million Protestant Christians, has printed 42 million Bibles.
Other Christian groups fear that the new freedoms provided for in the amendment will revert once the Olympics are over. However, Burklin says that’s unlikely because Christians are considered a positive influence in China. “I think the government over the last twenty years has realized that and therefore is saying, ‘If the Christians can be good citizens, then why shouldn’t we allow them to be able to live out their Christian faith more liberally?’ From a China Partner perspective, it will only allow us to do more, so we’re very excited about this shift.”
CP exists to help build up and equip the Church in China. This is accomplished by working in four main areas of ministry: Pastoral training, Christian literature distribution programs, training conferences, and Bible school and church construction. Continue to pray for the teams who are working with Christians in China that the freedoms in place will allow the church to grow.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]