AP: Conservative Christians 'revile' China

chinaChina is giving Christian missionaries the boot in advance of the 2008 Olympic Games, according to an Associated Press article by Alexa Olesen. It's a pretty straightforward story about more government oppression of religion in the world's most populous nation. The Communist Party that controls China's government doesn't want anyone using the massive numbers of people descending on the country as an opportunity to proselytize. That's at least the stated motive. The actual reason is probably more complicated, involving the government's desire to avoid embarrassing confrontations involving religious liberty.

Reader Daniel Roth brought the story to our attention and noted the following sentence that appears in the article's sixth paragraph:

Christian mission groups from around the world say they plan to quietly defy the Chinese ban on foreign missionaries and send thousands of volunteer evangelists to Beijing next year. Evangelicals worked the crowds at the Olympics in Athens, Sydney and Atlanta but the groups say the Beijing Games offer an opening like no other, in a communist country that conservative Christians have long reviled.

There is so much that could be said about this poorly constructed paragraph. First of all, Christian mission groups do not always fall into the category of evangelicals, though a traditional understanding of that word would make all Christian missionaries evangelicals. But that's now how the term is understood today.

There also is a false idea that only conservative Christians have mission groups. Consider the final sentence of the paragraph, which says "conservative Christians have long reviled" the communist country of China. Most conservative Christians you talk to loath the communist government for its oppression of free expression of religion, among other things. But what person who takes religion seriously doesn't oppose the oppression of free religious expression?

Most Christians, if they're willing to go to China as missionaries, or to support missionaries going to China, are likely to have some level of love for the country and its people. Olesen's statement does not make any sense and cannot be supported with facts.

Photo of The Great Hall of the People, on the west side of Tiananmen Square. Used under a creative commons license.

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