What was Bush thinking?

GB went to China yesterday. Before he came, he talked about the need for greater Freedom in China. He talked in Japan specifically about the need for religious Freedom in China. That was the right thing to do.

That's what he was supposed to do.

Though I can't understand what posessed who, to do what, where, that lead to what I saw on the news last night. Here was George Bush. He was in China. He was talking about the need for more religious Freedom. And he was worshiping in a State Sponsorshed Church.
The president and First Lady Laura Bush attended a morning service at one of Beijing's handful of state-sanctioned Protestant churches, Gangwashi, accompanied by a U.S. evangelist, Luis Palau.

"He wanted to set a framework for his discussions then about religious freedom and human rights with his Chinese counterparts," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said of the visit.

The overwhelming majority of Chinese Christians belong to illegal churches - Protestant "house" churches or underground Catholic congregations loyal to the Pope.

The communist authorities only tolerate a "patriotic" Protestant organization, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), and a Catholic equivalent that does not recognize papal authority.
(link)

What a propaganda victory for the Communist government who has been fighting an agressive war against the underground Churches in China for years.

You see in China, the government doesn't like the idea of Churches not controlled by the state. So they made it illegal for the Catholic Church to exist in any form in China except through an official State Sponsored church that is loyal to the Communist government. Though there are those that resist. The Vatican makes appointments in secret. And there are many other Christians that refuse to go to State Sponsored churches, and celebrate mass in secret. They are part of Underground Church that independent estimates size to be up to 100 million.

This news article downplays the persecution of Catholics, which I don't necessarily find appropriate considering that according to some estimates close to a fifth of the Christian population in China is Catholic.

Let's not say that the persecution of one Christian denomination is any worse or less than any other. That is just petty.

But what was Bush thinking? He wants to send out a message about religious freedom, and to do that he appears to be endorsing the same State Sponsored churches that are the problem in the first place?
Bush made it clear when speaking outside after the service that he had found the worship genuine.

"The spirit of the Lord is very strong inside your church," he told pastor Du Fengying, whose sermon he had listened to via a translation headset.

No doubt there are probably many genuine believers in those Churches. But that is not the point. The point is, that the Chinese government just got footage of President George Bush - the leader of the Free world - appearing to endorse State Sponsored churches.

A few days ago I read an article about Chinese Catholics being rounded up and arrested for no reason at all. Apparently this is a common occurence before an international visit happens. The State apparently is afraid that Catholics in particular will try to get messages out through international delegations.

If I were a Chinese Christian, after all the persecution I had seen, and I saw what Bush did, I would no doubt be steaming mad.

2 comments:

  1. As a Chinese Christian residing in Canada, I pay a lot of attention to the churches in China.

    The fact is, the situation for Christians is rather complex in China. In some regions, considerable freedom is provided in the Three-Self churches (state-sponsored). In others, ongoing persecutions are a reality.

    The Three-Self Patriotic Movement has also evolved from a purely state propaganda machine to a mixture of patriots and genuine Christians. Some of the latter have shown to a certain extent to their colleagues that Christians are not out there to overthrow the state, and thus calm some of their irrational fears.

    Furthermore, for Bush to take a hard line will only arouse more suspicions towards believers.

    Indeed, I applaud Bush's efforts in China. Overall, I think he handled himself with sensitivity to the Chinese mind, without compromising his own faith. The fact that he is worshipping as a Christian in China indicates how far China has come along - let's hope China continues to move in the same direction.

    On the other hand, Luis Palau's call to Chinese house churches to register with the state reveals Palau's lack of grip on the complex situation.

    Just my two pennies

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  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Bush is a pretend conservative. He allows the most favored commercial policies like fixed exchange rates, unfair trade, copywright ripoff, for an aggressive imperialistic communist regime.

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