Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CHINA OLYMPICS:Meeting Religious Needs of Foreign Visitors

Religious freedom may be tightening for Chinese Christians, but authorities hope to accommodate the spiritual needs of visitors to the Olympic Games.For starters, Beijing officials have asked local believers to provide religious services for foreigners attending the Games, according to a Reuters report on March 5. In response, Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China, said his association was training volunteers to hold English and Arabic prayer services for visiting Muslims. Fu Xianwei, president of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of Protestant Churches, and Liu Bainian, vice-chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, both told media that they were providing language training for official religious services during the Games.The Beijing Olympic Committee responded positively to Liu’s suggestion that Bibles be placed in Beijing hotel rooms for the religious needs of foreign visitors, according to a report in the China Daily on March 10.Amid reports of Chinese authorities confiscating Christian literature ahead of the Games, Luis Palau, a prominent Christian evangelist, has encouraged Christian visitors to bring Bibles to the Olympics. “Any person can go in there and take Bibles, as long as they’re not selling them,” Palau told The Christian Post. His suggestion, however, directly contradicted a November 2007 edict, when the Chinese government included the Bible on a list of items banned from the Olympic Village and warned visitors not to bring more than a single Bible with them on their visit to China.

As in the days of Noah...

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