Evangelicals at the Olympics

The World

China’s constitution technically guarantees religious freedom, but freedom in China is a relative term. This American missionary living in China talks about this paradox, and comments on how the Chinese regulate a lot of religious activity. For example, Christians can buy a Bible but you can’t Evangelize. What he and many other Christian missionaries are often left to share their faith by examples, which means individual conversations with Chinese they encounter, be it at their jobs, out shopping, or walking around their neighborhoods. Christian missionaries visiting the Olympics face the same restraints, and this scholar says it’s unlikely missionaries will be able to get away with much during the Games no matter how discreet they try to be. Missionary works surrounding the Olympics is nothing new and Christian groups have done everything from sending chaplains to holding rock concerts. China is having none of that, but where some see state censorship others see opportunity. This man with an organization that works with coaches and athletes at all levels to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ through sport says he’s never been more excited about the crossroads between religion and sports. The son of Billy Graham have been warning missionaries against going to China. this man who runs an organization which supports persecuted Christians globally says China has been of particular interest to his group. The Human Rights Group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, recently reported what it termed as disturbing trend of Christian missionaries in the run up to the Olympics and mentioned a high level of foreign expulsion. Many Western Evangelicals have scaled back their plans for the Olympics, and Asian missionaries feel the same pressure. President Bush will likely give China’s Christian population a boost this weekend and he plans to attend a church service in Beijing and is then supposed to talk about religious freedom. Some feel religious freedom is blossoming in China. This missionary says he’s been welcomed in China and feels free to say whatever he wants because he steers clear of politics. Yet his wish to hold an outdoor Christian festival in China has yet to be approved by the authorities.

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