Evangelist Luis Palau says he did not mean to "create problems" for Chinese house church members when he urged them to officially register their churches in order to "receive greater freedom and blessings from the government."

Palau's comments at a November press conference in Beijing drew criticism from representatives of Chinese house churches and religious freedom advocates.

"Rev. Palau is either unaware of the problems that registration can cause, or perhaps he is aware that if he makes remarks too critical of China's government, it could severely restrict his ministry there," said Paul Marshall, senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. "Registration can require revealing all the church's members to the government and exposing all of the church's activities. If the government then wants to crack down, it has all the information it needs."

Palau spoke positively of religious freedom in China, saying that the way house churches register in China "is similar to the way churches must register in the U.S." He also said, "You don't get arrested unless you break the law."

Palau has since said he regrets making the remarks. "It's not my role as an evangelist to suggest that churches in China should register," Palau said in a press release responding to criticism. "My role is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ."

In an interview with CT, Palau declined to elaborate on his views. "I expressed my views in a moment of exuberance, thinking it might be helpful, but it turned out not to be helpful," he said. "My goal is to protect, encourage, and bless God's people."

"Almost all Christians in registered or unregistered churches, in the great majority of cases, have quite a large amount of religious freedom," said ...

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February 2006

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