Today: Apr 14, 2024

Respecting, not restricting religion


Sometimes I don’t think Americans understand to the fullest extent how much religious freedom we have in the United States compared to other countries.  The freedom to gather in any place to worship in peace and unity without interruption from governmental authority is a blessing. 

Constantly I read stories about how synagogues, churches and places of worship are bombed, set on fire and destroyed on a daily basis. An ongoing issue that has caught my eye is the lack of Bibles available for Christians in China. Christianity has been increasing in China, but the printing of Bibles has not.  What makes matters worse is that the Chinese government has actually mandated for a decrease in Bibles being printed.  Wow! Here you have a growing population of Christians following Christ, and they have absolutely no access to a single Bible because of governmental restrictions. 

As a Christian, my heart goes out to my brothers and sisters in Christ that are living in countries where they are persecuted daily because of their belief in God.  I have a personal Bible, a Bible in the family room in my house and the Bible application on my phone.  After scanning my house and realizing how fortunate I am to even own a Bible, a great sorrow filled my heart.  The sorrow was for the Christians without. 

I know personally the many treasures the Bible holds–from the teachings of Jesus and the life He lived to the many wise parables and lessons the Bible offers.  This is actually the best book ever to be printed.  Some of my readers may not agree with me because of personal religious beliefs, but that doesn’t bother me.  I have respect for all religions, and Christians are not the only group of believers who are being persecuted for their beliefs. 

I am very happy that organizations such as Asia Link and Bible League strive to increase access to Bibles for Chinese Christians.  I commend these great efforts because it does not come without personal risk.  Some of the members of these organizations are putting themselves on the line to be persecuted and jailed for helping this crisis.

The Chinese government allows the Three Self-Safe Patriotic Movement to meet freely, but many pastors and church leaders are jailed and imprisoned.  The TSPM is a state-controlled Protestant church in the People’s Republic of China.  It doesn’t make sense that Christian Chinese are semi-allowed to go to a church, but everything they do is constantly under speculation.   If you are going to allow Christians to gather together for worship, why put restrictions on how “free” they are allowed to be?  Why persecute them?  Honestly, what is so bad about citizens of a country that want to serve God?  Are they a threat to an atheist Chinese government?  The Chinese government does allow printing of Bibles through the TSPM bookstores, but those participants who distribute Bibles are faced with possible imprisonment for illegal activity.

What brings me comfort is to know that a scripture in the Bible actually addresses the issue of Christian persecution.  The scriptures were written during the time Jesus was on earth, and this is what He taught his disciples: Matthew 5: 10-11 (NIV) states, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecute the prophets who were before you.”

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