Thursday, April 24, 2008

How should Christians respond to China's hosting of the Summer Olympic Games?

The issue of China hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics has indeed become controversial especially after the recent crackdown in Tibet. The controversy stems from the fact that the Chinese government's continuing failure to fully respect the basic human rights of its citizens. We at The Voice of the Martyrs are particularly concerned about the violation of religious liberties of Christians in China.  Since China was awarded the Olympic Games in 2001, we have seen a significant increase in the suppression of Christian groups that refuse to register with the government on the principle that to do so would be to allow the government to exercise unbiblical control over their faith.  This has been despite clear promises made by the Chinese government that they would actively work to improve human rights in their country should they be awarded the Olympic Games.

How should we respond to this?

Whether a boycott of China or Chinese products is appropriate or not is a matter of individual conscience.  But there are some things that all Christians can and should do in light of the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.

The first thing you can do is to pray for China. In April, in a historic move, key organizations that work with the persecuted church around the world, including The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, launched a global campaign calling for prayer for China. Pray that the authorities of the nation to stop the ongoing house church raids and arrests of pastors. Pray that the Chinese leadership will uphold the constitutional rights of Chinese Christians to worship God freely. Respond to the call of Chinese church leaders for prayer for full freedom to manifest their faith in China, the release of unjustly imprisoned Chinese Christians, and an end to discrimination and persecution of religious believers. Pray for the church in China as she contributes to the development of a just and harmonious society, fostering integrity, moral and ethical living and caring for the vulnerable.  We would urge you and your church to join Christians from around the world in planning and participating in a special 24 hours of prayer for China on August 8, 2008 (08-08-08), the day of the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics.

Another step you can take is to write a gracious and respectful letter to the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa with your concerns about the violation of human rights in China. For such letters to be effective, we do advise the writers not to advance their political opinion or mention the Voice of the Martyrs.  You can write the Chinese ambassador, Lu Shumin, at:

Ambassador Lu Shumin
Diplomatic Missions Embassy of the People's Republic of China
515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 5H3 

You may also wish to express your concerns to Maxime Bernier, Canada's foreign affairs minister at:

Hon. Maxime Bernier
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Finally, you can learn as much as you can about China and the state of religious freedom there. The Voice of the Martyrs has a number of books and videos specifically on China that you can order on our website. You can also ask us to send you our most recent resource catalogue.  Knowing the truth about China will help you as you pray and write as well as giving your insight on how you can stand together with your brothers and sisters in China and encourage others to do likewise.


Anonymous said...

It seems that christians have several avenues or tracks available to them. All of the tracks require prayer:
1. The boycott track already mentioned, of both the games and or products.
2. The pastoral track of getting bibles and teaching materials in the hands of christians in China;
3. The institutional track that reluctantly associates with the TSPM so that, when China does become free those institutions that associate with them will be first in line to do more when freedom arrives;
4. The commercial track where business and business persons invest in China thereby earning the right and creating a dependence which could enable dialogue because the PRC understands the language of $$$
5. The engagement track is where Christians directly engage the government in non-violent civil disobedience as modeled in Christ (clearing of the temple), the Good Samaritan who disobeyed the religio-cultural lines and yet was commended by our Lord or the four friends that removed the roof (property damage?) of a villager in order to lower their paralyzed friend before Jesus, in which Jesus marveled at their faith.

Christian have options, and perhaps more than I have mentioned. Some conventional, others quite unconventional but not unChristian.

What do you think?

Glenn Penner said...

I did not mention these avenues because, as I said, they are a matter of individual conscience. What I tried to give were avenues that all Christians could engage in, without controversy. These which you have mentioned each have merit and each have their detractors (yes, even #2). But I personally lean towards supporting a number of them.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree; praying is the best thing we can do for the Beijing Olympics. If we boycott the Olympics it'll be the athletes who are penalized for China's government choices.

I think boycotting the Olympic ceremonies is okay tho; the IOC needs to be held accountable for their choice in the Olympics location this year.

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