Cardinal Zen Calls for More Support for the Church In China

The Vatican needs to do more to support the true Church in China. That is the message from Cardinal Zen.

His comments are worth considering, not only because of the religious persecution in China, but because of the growing tendency for government to try to control the Church and the faithful in the Western world.

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China Changes One-Child Policy. It’s Two Children Now.

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It’s a step in the right direction. 

China has announced that it will “ease” its draconian one-child policy. Now, the good government will allow families to have two children. 

I am glad they are doing this, but governments do not have any business telling families how many children they can have. Period. 

If China — or India, for that matter — wanted to “ease” the pressures that lead to aborting, abandoning and murdering baby girls, they might consider measures to change the age-old practices that created this violent discrimination. I am not talking about coercion. Rather, by addressing issues of parity in inheritance, income and opportunity, much of the “reason” for murdering baby girls would go away. 

The article below seems to say that ending the brutal murders of baby girls has nothing to do with this policy change, so don’t hold your breath for these kinds of changes. What the article implies is that China is “easing” their policy (but not relaxing their control over people’s private lives) for economic reasons. It seems the economy flourishes with a growing population to buy goods and services. 

In the meantime, I am wondering if this new policy means that now the Chinese government will knock down people’s houses and grab pregnant women off the streets to force abort them after the second baby instead of the first. 

From Reuters:

(Reuters) - China will ease family planning restrictions nationwide, the government said on Friday, allowing millions of families to have two children in the country’s most significant liberalization of its strict one-child policy in about three decades.

Couples in which one parent is an only child will now be able to have a second child, one of the highlights of a sweeping raft of reforms announced three days after the ruling Communist Party ended a meeting that mapped out policy for the next decade.

The plan to ease the policy was envisioned by the government about five years ago as officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population the country had no hope of supporting financially.

A growing number of scholars had long urged the government to reform the policy, introduced in the late 1970s to prevent population growth spiraling out of control, but now regarded by many experts as outdated and harmful to the economy.

 

Christianity in China

This video talks about Christianity in China. Christianity is growing, despite persecution.

It is interesting that the communists do not make Christianity illegal, they put it under state control. This is similar to the way that our government has begun to try to control Christianity here in America; by reducing the First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion to worship services in houses of worship and the privacy of our own homes.

This is tyranny.

 

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15 Countries Named for ‘Systematic, On-Going’ Abuse of Religious Freedom

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a recent report that named 15 Countries of Particular Concern because of the threats that their governments pose to religious liberty.

These countries are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The governments in these countries have “either engaged in or tolerated systematic, on-going, egregious abuse of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Based on the stories I’ve seen since I’ve been writing about Christian persecution, I would guess that the most consistently persecuted group in these countries is Christians.

From CNA:

Washington D.C., May 4, 2013 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- A recent report on international religious liberty cautioned that severe threats to freedom of religion exist in diverse communities through the world and should be discouraged through actions by the U.S. government.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission that released the report.

“Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” she explained.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom gathers information throughout the year by meeting with government officials, citizens, analysts and non-governmental organizations across the globe in order to assess the state of international religious liberty. The independent, bipartisan group then advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on recommended actions to be taken.

Issued each year, the commission’s report marks “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), which are defined as “countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” The State Department has the opportunity to officially label CPCs and decide whether to impose sanctions or other penalties on each country.

The 2013 document recommended 15 countries to be designated as CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (Read the rest here.)

Christian Persecution and the Terminology of Death

Desolate by Hoddie

Years ago, I had a conversation with a nice woman who held a responsible position in the Episcopalian (or Anglican, as it is called in most countries) missions agency. She kindly agreed to introduce me to several African Anglican bishops. In the course of our conversation, she told me that none of the Christians in the countries where these bishops presided were suffering “pure” persecution, since what they were going through did not come by direct government order.  Her contention was that “persecution” could only happen if a government ordered it.

She introduced me to a number of bishops, despite the fact that I did not agree with her on this. They gave me an entirely different story. They had no doubt that what they and their people were undergoing was persecution, many times to the death, for their Christian faith.

One bishop from Northern Nigeria told me that five of his churches had been burned to the ground, that his daughter had been seized, and that a member of one of his parishes was murdered by a mob that put the man over a sawhorse and cut off his head. I can still hear the pain and horror in his voice as he described this to me.

Yet, by the definition I had heard none of this would qualify as persecution.

I had an interesting conversation earlier today with a sophisticated and knowledgeable Catholic who holds the same view. If I understood him correctly, the only persecution that can be officially accepted as such is that which comes as an official action by an official government of the type that occurs in North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.

I’ve been chewing on this all afternoon. I understand — or at least I think I do — the difference between government-enforced persecution and that which comes from groups of people in a society. There are few things more draconian that government-enforced persecution. However, to label everything that is not government-enforced as “not persecution” just doesn’t jibe with me; not if the horror stories I’ve read and been told are true. 

I’ve spent a fair lifetime in the world of political jargoneering, and I have an admittedly cynical view of it. When people parse the meanings of words to avoid the obvious fact that other people are being murdered, it triggers enormous emotional and mental resistance in me.

I tried to find the United Nations definition of persecution by looking online, and all I found were definitions related to refugees. I’ll quote the salient parts as I discuss them.

The first definition, which is a definition of persecution itself, says:

51. … From Article 33 of the 1951 Convention, it may be inferred that a threat to life or freedom on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group is always persecution. Other serious violations of human rights – for the same reasons – would also constitute persecution. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not versed in International law, but taken on its face, that seems to say that what the bishop from Nigeria described to me, as well as most of the other things I’ve heard and read, fit this definition of persecution.

The second part of the definition goes to what both the two people who think persecution only occurs at the behest of a government are probably referring to:

65. Persecution is normally related to action by the authorities of a country. 

However, the same definition goes on to say:

It may also emanate from sections of the population that do not respect the standards established by the laws of the country concerned. A case in point may be religious intolerance, amounting to persecution, in a country otherwise secular, but where sizeable fractions of the population do not respect the religious beliefs of their neighbours. Where serious discriminatory or other offensive acts are committed by the local populace, they can be considered as persecution if they are knowingly tolerated by the authorities, or if the authorities refuse, or prove unable, to offer effective protection.

The violent persecution I’ve described on this blog and heard about in my discussions with people from these countries seems to fit this definition to me.

All this came from a Google search. I may have the wrong definitions. However, it does show that at least part of the United Nations definitions of persecution include situations such as those I have been writing about.

The reason I’m going over this is because I believe that people are being murdered, imprisoned and otherwise mistreated in large parts of the world today because they are Christians. If I am wrong about this, I want to know it.

If, on the other hand, I am right, I intend to persist in calling it out so long as it continues and I am able to say anything about it.

My thoughts run along these lines:

This was not a government action.

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But it was persecution. 

 

This is not a government action either.

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But it also is persecution.

 

I am trying to understand how we can work around the intractability of legal definitions which narrow the meaning of persecution to the point that it allows things like these and does not call them by name.

Is China Planning to Change the One-Child Policy?

An intriguing article in the Shanghaiist speculates that perhaps China is considering revising their one-child policy.

This article is based on recommendations that came from The China Development Foundation, which is a government think tank. The recommendations include going to a two-child policy in some provinces this year and moving toward a national two-child policy by 2015.

Whether or not these recommendations will be enacted, it sounds as if they will still leave the decision of how many children a couple may have in the government’s hands. Up until now, this had led to government mandated forced abortions and other atrocities against women.

The Shanghaiist article says in part:

The China Development Research Foundation, a government think tank, has called for the immediate phasing-out of the one-child policy and for all Chinese families to be allowed two children by 2015.

Xie Meng, a press affairs official with the foundation, said the final version of the report wil be released “in a week or two.” But Chinese state media have been given advance copies. The official Xinhua News Agency said the foundation recommends a two-child policy in some provinces from this year and a nationwide two-child policy by 2015. It proposes all birth limits be dropped by 2020, Xinhua reported.”China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” Xinhua said, citing the report. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Chinese House Church Christian Sentenced to “Re-Education Through Labor”

One way the Communist government in China attempts to control Christianity is by confining it to government-approved churches. The government then picks the bishops, priests and preachers who work in these churches. That places these “official” churches and their message under government control.

One way Christians in China try to get around this is to worship in “house churches” which are basically underground churches where people can worship the true Jesus found in the Gospels. The government attempts to suppress these house churches by use of criminal punishments, including sentencing people to labor, which is probably just another name for slave labor.

I don’t know, but I wonder if any of these prisoners work in American factories, making the gifts we put under our Christmas trees.

The following article from Worthy News describes the sentencing of Mao Henfeng to “re-education through labor.” Mao Hengfeng is a house church in Shanghai. The article reads in part:

BEIJING, CHINA (Worthy News)– A high profile house church Christian in Shanghai who has been continually targeted for government harassment was just handed an extra-judicial sentence to a forced labor camp.

Mao Hengfeng was sentenced to 18 months of “re-education through labor” for “disrupting public order,” the third such sentence for the 50 year-old Mao, who is in poor health with high blood pressure.

Labor camp sentences were also handed down to others who joined Hengfeng in seeking redress from the Communist government; recently many petitioners have disappeared into official custody, been criminally detained or had their freedom of movement curtailed in the days leading up to the November 8 opening of the 18th Party Congress.

ChinaAid President Bob Fu expressed grave concern for these political detainees as well as others who suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese government as it prepares for its Party Congress. Fu called upon the international community to seize the opportunity presented by this latest Party Congress and bring about reforms that will protect human rights, the rule of law and freedom of religion. (Read more here.)

China: A Growing War Machine Built With American Corporate Greed

America gave China its industrial base and its technology in exchange for cheap/slave labor. These are the weapons we built.

Reuters/Reuters – A carrier-borne J-15 fighter jet takes off from the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, in this undated handout photo released November 25, 2012. China has successfully conducted flight landing on its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, after its delivery to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy on September 25, 2012, according to Xinhua News Agency. REUTERS/Xinhua/Zha Chunming

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its firstaircraft carrier, state media said on Sunday, a symbolically significant development as Asian neighbors fret about the world’s most populous country’s military ambitions.

The home-built J-15 fighter jet took off from and landed on the Liaoning, a reconditioned Soviet-era vessel from Ukraine which only came into service in September this year.

China ushered in a new generation of leaders this month at the 18th Communist Party Congress in Beijing, with outgoing President Hu Jintao making a pointed reference to strengthening China’s naval forces, protecting maritime interests and the need to “win local war”.

China is embroiled in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over South China Sea islands believed to be surrounded by waters rich in natural gas. It has a similar dispute with Japan over islands in theEast China Sea.

It has also warned the United States, with President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, not to get involved.

“We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age,” Hu said.

China has advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows of new hardware, including its first test flight of a stealth fighter jet in early 2011, an elite helicopter unit and the launch of the aircraft carrier.(Read more here.)

What Would Happen if Corporations Opposed China’s One-Child Policy?

We live in a morally truncated world. We’ve been very carefully taught that economics, business and just about everything involved with the multi-national corporations who are controlling our government are morality-free zones.

It’s as if the Gospels stop at the doorways of corporate board rooms. 

We have no trouble laying the heavy hand of our moral judgements on things like how some little old lady casts her vote, but we can’t seem to wrap our minds around the idea that corporate policies that kill, maim and enslave millions of innocent people might be subject to moral demands as well.

This laxity of moral teaching leads to terrible things. When the churches, as so many of them do, twist the Scriptures to provide dishonest and morally bankrupt moral cover for multi-national corporations, then it makes saner people question if the Scriptures actually mean anything.

I want to ask a simple question: What would happen if the American corporations who have exported America’s industrial base to China made a stand against China’s vicious one-child policy?

That’s the challenge Chen Guangcheng, the blind anti-one-child policy activist who recently came to America gave to Apple Corporation.

A September 14 Baptist Press article quotes him as saying, “Apple in China should take a very active role,” said Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Chinese women forced to have abortions or sterilizations, according to Bloomberg News. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”

Well. Duh. Multi-national corporations have moral responsibilities. I think it’s interesting that it took a heroic Christian who had suffered persecution in China to finally say this. But I thank God that somebody finally did.

The article says in part:

WASHINGTON (BP) — Apple, creator of the iPhone and iPad, could help bring an end to China’s coercive population control program, a leading Chinese opponent of the policy is contending.

“Apple in China should take a very active role,” said Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Chinese women forced to have abortions or sterilizations, according to Bloomberg News. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”

Chen and other human rights advocates sent a letter to Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, asking for a meeting and urging the firm to halt coercive population control polices in its plants. Among other recommendations, they urged Apple to bar Chinese family planning authorities from access to its factories and to decline to report to the government pregnant women who do not have birth permits, Bloomberg reported Sept. 6.

“Apple is in a unique position to take a leadership role in standing up against coercive family planning in China,” Chen and the others said in the letter.

Apple’s latest yearly corporate responsibility report showed 24 of its factories it inspected performed pregnancy tests on female employees and 56 of its plants had no protocols to prevent discriminatory practices against pregnant women. The suppliers had halted screenings, Apple said, and it will terminate its relationship with facilities that are discriminatory, according to Bloomberg.

The human rights advocates also are asking other corporations, including Cisco Systems Inc., to call on China to end its coercive policy. They are targeting Apple first because it is the world’s leading technology firm and the largest corporation by market value, a spokesman told Bloomberg.

China’s population control program — known as the one-child policy and instituted officially in 1980 — generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children. (Read more here.)


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