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Tour of Chinese Bibles exhibit slammed as government propaganda

Country/Region: United States, China

Chinese_bible_4X3.jpg
A Chinese Bible
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wesley Fryer

An exhibition tour of Chinese Bibles in the United States has been denounced as a “political propaganda show” to cover up the Chinese government’s persecution of Christians in the country.  

China Aid Association, a US-based Christian human rights group, said that the intent of the “Thy Word is Truth” exhibition was to “mislead members of the public, politicians, and church leaders overseas who are unaware of the realities in China”.

It has been organised by the “Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Protestant Church in China”, which is part of China’s official Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

China Aid contrasted the picture presented by an exhibit showing Bibles being printed and distributed throughout China with cases of “house church” Christians being arrested and sentenced to prison terms for doing precisely the same thing, as well as other examples of anti-Christian persecution.

Beijing house church leader Shi Weihan was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for printing and transporting a large quantity of Bibles and Christian materials.

Chinese pastor Hong Yujian said that the exhibition was “a total show for deceptive purposes”. He said:

I think it is a kind of grand deception for political propaganda purposes. Because in China, except for government-operated Christian bookstores ... no other bookstores ... are allowed to sell the Bible.

China Aid also highlighted the “Chinese government’s persecution of house churches and any government-approved church that dares to adhere to the principles of the Christian faith and refuses to submit to the government’s political control and go against those principles.”

It cited the ongoing persecution of Shouwang Church, a Beijing house church that has been forced to worship outdoors after the authorities repeatedly thwarted its efforts to buy or rent premises in which to meet. Hundreds of Shouwang members have been detained by the police since the outdoor services began in April.

Official churches that do not toe the government line are also targeted. The Changchunli Three-Self Church in the city of Jinan, Shandong province, endured repeated government persecution from June 2009 to September 2010. Its pastors were removed, church members beaten and church building demolished.

China Aid expressed regret that some American churches, Christian organisations and leaders who are supporting the exhibition tour “had been misled and hoodwinked by this use of religion to engage in political and diplomatic trickery”.

“Thy Word is Truth” was in Washington D.C. from 28 September to 2 October before moving to Chicago from 12 to 16 October. Its next stop is Dallas from 30 October to 3 November and it will finish in North Carolina, hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, between 8 and 19 November.

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