Attending one of five state-sanctioned churches in Beijing, President Bush urged Chinese officials to allow more religious freedom. "It wasn't all that long ago that people were not allowed to worship openly in this society," the President said after the service, his first public event during this trip to China. "My hope is that the government of China will not fear the Christians who gather to worship openly. A healthy society is a society that welcomes all faiths."
The Associated Press reports, "The service at Gangwashi Church, one of five officially recognized Protestant churches in Beijing, was in Chinese, but its structure and content would have been familiar to any Protestant parishioner in the United States. Bush and other guests listened to a translation over headphones." According to the London Times, the President's father attended the church when he lived in Beijing between 1974 and 1975 as head of the U.S. Liaison Office.
At the same time, The Dallas Morning News reports that Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., said the recent report on religious freedom by the State Department and the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom showed that religious freedom in the country is deteriorating. "The communist government views religion as a threat to their power and acts accordingly," Wolf said.
Simlarly, The Independent reports that there is little evidence that China is listening to the U.S. State Department or the American President. "The between 40 and 80 million Chinese Christians routinely face religious persecution. Earlier this month, the Protestant minister Cai Zhuohua, his wife, and brother were sentenced to three years in jail for printing Bibles without the permission of the authorities, while when ...1
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