Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are libertarians right to say that lifting sanctions on evil regimes leads to liberalizing reforms?

Has liberalizing relations with China caused their government to introduce pro-liberty reforms? Libertarians like Rand Paul who cheered Obama’s appeasement of Cuba think that it has, but what are the facts?

This is a news article from the ultra-leftist UK Guardian.

Excerpt:

China’s drift towards a new authoritarianism under the unsmiling leadership of Xi Jinping has found new expression in a series of alarming year’s-end moves to curb personal freedoms and free speech. The country’s implacable president and Communist party chief is forcefully driving China towards economic and geopolitical superpower status. But the social cost is mounting steadily.

With the ruthless crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong still fresh in the memory, Xi’s latest anti-democratic coup came in the form of expanded action to block Gmail, Google’s email service, presumably because it gave users a degree of autonomy that Xi and his unelected party cadres find threatening. China already regularly blocks foreign websites such as Facebook and YouTube. Google pulled most of its business out of China in 2011 after a row over censorship.

Aspects of Xi’s policy of “autocracy with Chinese characteristics” are familiar to the country’s academic community, which is under renewed pressure to toe the party line. Instructions issued by the president after a higher education conference on Monday included the demand that universities do more to promote Marxist doctrine and Communist party ideological guidance, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Enhancing [party] leadership and party-building in the higher learning institutions is a fundamental guarantee for running socialist universities with Chinese features well,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Political indoctrination is already a routine feature of university life for Chinese students, while their teachers are subject to monitoring to ensure political correctness. In an echo of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union, this year reporters from state-controlled media were ordered to attend university lectures and detect and denounce teachers whose ideas might be considered “scornful of China” or pro-western.

Christians are hit especially hard:

China’s estimated 60-70 million Christians have not escaped persecution during the Christmas period, according to reports from Beijing suggesting their plight has worsened under the new leadership. Members of Shouwang, a Beijing Christian group, told Agence France-Presse that several pastors had been under house arrest since they tried to arrange Easter services in a public square in 2011.

Most Chinese Christians shun state-run churches and worship in “house churches” beyond government control. But official tolerance of such independent activity is waning, judging by a crackdown on 400 churches in eastern Zhejiang province, some of which were reportedly demolished.

Offering an insight into paranoid party thinking, an official recently told Beijing worshippers to “resolutely resist the use of Christianity by foreigners to infiltrate China”. Crosses have been torn down at many churches and at a nursing home. The authorities have made an issue out of Christmas lights, which are increasingly popular in Chinese cities, saying they may pose a safety hazard.

The ultra-leftist New York Times had more to say. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

They pounce on bloggers who dare mock their beloved Chairman Mao. They scour the nation’s classrooms and newspapers for strains of Western-inspired liberal heresies. And they have taken down professors, journalists and others deemed disloyal to Communist Party orthodoxy.

China’s Maoist ideologues are resurgent after languishing in the political desert, buoyed by President Xi Jinping’s traditionalist tilt and emboldened by internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red.

Ideological vigilantes have played a pivotal role in the downfall of Wang Congsheng, a law professor in Beijing who was detained and then suspended from teaching after posting online criticisms of the party. Another target was Wang Yaofeng, a newspaper columnist who voiced support for the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and then found himself without a job.

“Since Xi came to power, the pressure and control over freethinkers has become really tight,” said Qiao Mu, a Beijing journalism professor who was demoted this fall, in part for publicly espousing multiparty elections and free speech. “More and more of my friends and colleagues are experiencing fear and harassment.”

Two years into a sweeping offensive against dissent, Mr. Xi has been intensifying his focus on perceived ideological opponents, sending ripples through universities, publishing houses and the news media and emboldening hard-liners who have hailed him as a worthy successor to Mao Zedong.

[…]Mr. Xi’s recent orders and the accompanying surge of pressure on political foes further dispelled initial suspicions that his ideological hardening was a feint to establish his credibility with traditionalists as he settled into power. Instead, his continuing campaign against Western-inspired ideas has emboldened traditional party leftists.

This is why libertarians like Rand Paul can never be the Republican candidate for President. Foreign policy is one of the main responsibilities of the President. When it comes to choosing our leaders, we have to choose someone who sees what has and has not worked in the past. Trade is not a solution to reining in strong anti-Western nations, something else (maybe like Reagan in the Cold War?) is needed to deal with evil regimes. We made a mistake throwing Cuba a lifeline just as we had them on the ropes. We have to look at the world and ask what comes after stage one of foreign policy decisions – for all parties. The trouble with libertarians is that they don’t apply the economic way of thinking to foreign policy.

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Christianity expanding rapidly in communist China

Jay Richards tweeted this story from Breitbart News.

Excerpt:

Though the Chinese Communist Party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now overshadowed by an estimated 100 millionChristians in China. It is no wonder Beijing is nervous and authorities are cracking down on Christian groups.

Christianity is growing so fast in China that some predict that it will be the most Christian nation in the world in only another 15 years. By far, the greatest growth is coming outside the official state-sanctioned churches, which are rightly considered subservient to the Communist Party. Numbers are increasing, rather, in unofficial Protestant “house churches” and in the underground Catholic church.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

[…]According to the annual report of the human rights group China Aid, persecution of Christians worsened dramatically in 2013, in line with a constant trend of deteriorating religious freedom over the past eight years. Most recently, the oppression of Christians has especially targeted Protestant groups, leaving most Catholics alone, which many feel reflects Beijing’s strategic goal of reestablishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican. According to reports, hundreds of Protestant churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang have been targeted for demolition in the past year.

Unrecognized Christian groups have been subject to crackdowns for years, but observers say the atmosphere is getting worse as their numbers increase and the governing Communist Party takes a more nationalist tone under President Xi Jinping.

Particularly hard hit has been a Beijing Christian group called Shouwang. “Things have got worse this year because the police started to detain us. I was detained for a week,” said Zhao Sheng, 54, musical organizer for the group’s Christmas service.

“But Christmas is still a happy time. No matter what happens, God is with us,” he added with a smile.

I think this story is a nice reminder for us that it can be the case that God’s permitting of evil can be be justified if it helps more people to know him. Now, of course this seems unfair to narcissistic atheists who think that God, if he existed, ought to be their cosmic butler. But for people who take God as they find him, it’s not a surprise that God can permit evil things to happen in order accomplish purposes of leading more people into a free love relationship with him. After all, look what happened to Jesus! Christians aren’t surprised by evil and suffering – on the contrary, we expect it. We know that the purpose of life is not for God to make his human pets happy, but for God to draw us toward him and allow us to freely respond to his saving initiative.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

China’s atheist government demolishes Christian church

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Demolition teams began destroying parts of a Chinese church that has become a symbol of resistance to the Communist Party’s draconian clutch on religion, activists and witnesses said on Monday.

Sanjiang church in Wenzhou, a wealthy coastal city known as the “Jerusalem of the East”, made headlines earlier this month when thousands of Christians formed a human shield around its entrance after plans for its demolition were announced.

Church members accused Communist leaders in Zhejiang province of ordering an anti-church crackdown and claimed there were plans to completely or partially demolish at least 10 places of worship.

Officials rejected those accusations, alleging the church had violated building codes.

After mounting their high-profile occupation in early April, many protesters withdrew from Sanjiang church after its leaders appeared to have negotiated a compromise with the government.

However, that deal appears to have broken down in recent days with reports that some church leaders and worshippers had been harassed and detained by security agents and officials.

On Monday morning demolition teams began tearing down parts of the church in Wenzhou, a city around 230 miles south of Shanghai that has one of the country’s largest congregations.

[…]In a recent interview Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, said he believed the Asian country could overtake Brazil, Mexico and the United States to become the world’s most numerous Christian congregation by 2030.

However, Prof. Yang warned that Chinese Christians should brace themselves for growing interference as the Communist Party fought to stunt the Church’s growth.

This is the same church that I blogged about before where Christians were blocking bulldozers with their bodies. It is interesting to see how atheists get on when they are dominant and in control of government. In an accidental universe, who’s to say what is right and wrong? And certainly there is no right to religious liberty or free exercise of religion.

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China on course to become ‘world’s most Christian nation’ within 15 years

Story from the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao’s death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world’s number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

“By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon,” said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

“It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change.”

China’s Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Prof Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by 2025. That would likely put China ahead even of the United States, which had around 159 million Protestants in 2010 but whose congregations are in decline.

By 2030, China’s total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world, he predicted.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this,” Prof Yang said. “It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely.”

Previously, I had blogged about how the Christians in China were rebelling against the Chinese authorities to prevent them from demolishing their churches. It’s not a perfect country at all, but at least there is some good news there.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Christians in China form human shield around church after demolition threat

From the UK Telegraph.

Excerpt:

Thousands of Chinese Christians have mounted an extraordinary, round-the-clock defence of a church in a city known as the ‘Jerusalem of the East’ after Communist Party officials threatened to bulldoze their place of worship.

In an episode that underlines the fierce and long-standing friction between China’s officially atheist Communist Party and its rapidly growing Christian congregation, Bible-carrying believers this week flocked to the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to protect it from the bulldozers.

Their 24-hour guard began earlier this week when a demolition notice was plastered onto the newly-constructed church which worshippers say cost around 30 million yuan (£2.91 million) and almost six years to build.

Officials claimed the church had been built illegally and used red paint to daub the words: “Demolish” and “Illegal construction” onto its towering facade.

The threat triggered a furious reaction in Wenzhou, a booming port city known for its vibrant Christian community, said to be China’s largest.

Hundreds of people, including elderly and in some cases disabled women, have now occupied the church to prevent demolition teams moving in.

[…]Wenzhou, a wealthy coastal city around 230 miles south of Shanghai in Zhejiang province, has around seven million residents. Local Christians claim as many as 15 per cent of them are church goers, the majority Protestant.

Some of the comments made by the Chinese Christians are quite moving. I was encouraged that Christians on the other side of the planet were willing to risk their lives to defend their church. I prayed about the Christian church in China on Friday night. I hope that God is watching over them.

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