Opinion by William McKenzie, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Early on the morning of November 28, 2007, Jia Weihan was forced to think the unthinkable: Was her father really a bad man?
At the time, she was an 11-year-old attending a school in Beijing that taught her to respect the communist authorities. When 30 or so police officers arrived to arrest her father, she did not know what to think.
As it turned out, her father, Shi Weihan, the pastor of a house church, was simply trying to live out his religious beliefs. That should be a fundamental right, but in China - even the more economically liberalized China – it’s not.
Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square - where on June 4, 1989, Chinese soldiers turned their guns on protesting students and activists - freedom remains elusive.
In China, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims face worse conditions than at any time over the past decade, according to a report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The report warns that independent Protestants and Catholics face arrests, fines and the closing of their churches. The government recently bulldozed one large church in the city of Wenzhou.
The report also highlights other restrictions, including these problems:
"Practitioners of Falun Gong, as well as other Buddhist, folk religionist, and Protestant groups deemed 'superstitious' or 'evil cults' face long jail terms, forced denunciations of faith and torture in detention, and the government has not sufficiently answered accusations of psychiatric experimentation and organ harvesting."
In Shi's case, he had decided not to tell Jia and her 7-year-old sister, Enmei, that he was printing Bibles and Christian literature. That was against Chinese law, so he did not want to put his children in jeopardy by letting them in on the secret.
Their children soon came to understand the secret, in a life-altering way.
Two years later, in June 2009, their father was sentenced to three years in prison for printing Bibles to meet growing demand. After he was released in February 2011, Shi realized he had to leave his homeland.
Authorities still were following him, so he applied to the Christ for the Nations Institute, an interdenominational college in Dallas. The school accepted him, and soon Shi, who also goes by the Anglicized name of John Stone, was on his way to Texas with his family.
One recent morning in his McKinney home, Shi, 44, explained what happened to him.
When 2008 approached and China was on the verge of hosting the Summer Olympics, the government did not want any messiness. No protests. No marches. No Tiananmen Squares.
That included no outcry over religious freedoms.
Going back almost 40 years, the government had allowed an official church. And it had given more liberties, as even Shi acknowledges. But the kind of house church that Shi hosted in his office, where he also ran a business, was not a state-sanctioned church.
Timeline: The Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989
A situation like this can be hard to fathom in the United States, where we have a multitude of religious options. It was for me upon meeting Shi in February, when he and other Chinese dissidents came by the George W. Bush Institute offices to discuss their experiences.
The institute, co-founded by the former president, works to promote human freedom and economic growth across the world.
Fortunately, the freedom to worship, or not worship, is a given in our country. When we think of religious liberty, the concept usually revolves around matters like whether the government can allow prayers at public events.
That question undoubtedly matters, but religious freedom presents a more immediate challenge to many others around the world who wonder whether their faith will get them thrown in jail, persecuted or even killed.
Some religious dissidents leave their homelands for more unfamiliar territory. Shi and his family ended up in a suburban community outside Dallas that once was a cotton-farming haven.
He now speaks to churches and groups across the U.S. about his experience and the importance of religious freedom. He also works with an energy company that turns trash into oil products.
How covering June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown kicked off 'CNN Effect'
Bob Fu suffered a similar ordeal.
Now the head of China Aid in Midland, Texas, Fu was forced into exile for practicing his religious beliefs in China. He captured his story in his book "God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom."
Fu joined Shi this year at the Bush Institute offices. He reported that his organization has recorded 7,424 cases of persecution of Christians in China in 2013.
Denying religious liberty affects individuals most of all. But it also carries larger social and political consequences.
The lack of religious freedom undermines the rule of law. It can create social unrest by marginalizing believers. And it can threaten international stability, especially when extremist forces gain power.
Shi says he still prays for his country. That’s an appropriate response.
But there is a reason to remain vigilant about religious liberty, including something as simple as speaking out about the denial of such a right.
A fundamental human freedom is at stake.
William McKenzie is editorial director of the George W. Bush Institute, a public policy center in Dallas. The views expressed in this column belong to McKenzie.
If China continues to move on a progressive path toward reality they will overtake the USA as the leading superpower.
Just curious. Why is it that atheist continually want to talk about God and Jesus. I have no desire to talk about things i think are foolish or irrelavent. But, as I read these blogs day by day, it seems there are very few commentors, but lots of comments, mostly from atheist and a few "Christians" who want to engage the atheist in debate. For the most part I think both sides treat each other pretty poorly. Of course the athesit claim no guiding force in there lives, which is their business, but for the "Christians", they have boldly stated their belief in a person, Jesus, who would not condone their treatment of atheist.
Does either side think they are making headway for the agenda they espouse?
No need to believe in God for this little verse to apply Proverbs 26: 4-7
4 When arguing with fools, don't answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are. 5 When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation. 6 Trusting a fool to convey a message is as foolish as cutting off one's feet or drinking poison! 7 In the mouth of a fool, a proverb becomes as limp as a paralyzed leg.
"Why is it that atheist continually want to talk about God and Jesus. "
I think you'll find, if you read more carefully, that many atheists here are more interested in the agendas of those who believe in God and Jesus than the objects of those beliefs. And really that's often the same concern among believers toward each other.
"Of course the athesit claim no guiding force in there lives,"
Not really. The guiding force(s) for atheists just do not involve supernatural deities.
I am interested in what centers you. You say you have a guiding force or forces, please expand. This is sincere, I would understand if you thought I was trying to be clever, but I am not. I am not saying someone needs any outside force, I am just curious what you would consider a legit influncer in terms of morality.
Laws and culture dictate morality... not religion. For proof take a sample from any religious institution and see how many people follow all of their compulsive religious guidance. The 10 commandments and such...
"You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion." ~LET
I would say guiding forces for me are not concretely one thing or another, but more of a culmination of many effects and experiences over time. And with consideration, the recognition of the sources of those effects. Therefore there is not question of legitimacy at any level or point in time. Social morality evolves. We observe the influencing factors from history and today, educate ourselves on current knowledge about health and various other issues to help form our opinions, which then may become part of collective, social opinion if we allow ourselves to be represented.
First amendment and an open blog, dude. We are all free to speak as we choose. Personally, I post here because there are certain believers on this blog who post flat out lies and harmful insults. I was raised to be honest. If someone lies, I'm going to call them on it. If someone insults for no reason, I'm going to defend. Silence implies approval. That is why I post.
We are trying to save humanity from the self-destruction of religious ignorance... how could we in good conscience idly stand by and do or say nothing?
Maybe spend time out in your local community helping others would be more affective and more impactful...maybe? But I bet you do that already.
That's a swell endeavor, dvd. Of course, for certain things like lending a voice for those who are sitting in prison right now in Uganda at the hands of evangelicals from the U.S. is another endeavor...
Actually, yes I do. But predominately Veteran and Feed America related causes. And the wife and I have supported Alzheimer and MS walks...
I think you are correct about the issues in Uganda, I am always fascinated by the work of "Christians" like these. Of course what is happening in Ruwanda is th eother side of the "Christian" coin.
Did you quote yourself? Niether here nor there, I do not think any one needs religion to have morality, nor did my comments imply that in any way. You may have infered it based on your opinion of "religious" people.
Question; Has religion or have any religious people brought about anything good in the world in your opinion's?
I do quote myself when I need to repeat something awesome that I've said previously...
Good things from religion: Music, art, funny Latin sayings, and ugly naked people should be fully obscured with clothing...
So no credit for hospitals in the 3rd world? No credit for human sheilds in war zones? No credit for food banks clothing drives? No credit for homeless shelters? I am not claiming that religious groups have a monopoly, but it has been my experience that these types of activities are very common in religious organizations.
I didn't realize I was supposed to provide an all inclusive list... and all of those you mentioned, also have comparable secular organizations providing the same services... so religion is not unique in those endeavors...
Never asked for a comprehensive list, just thought your list was a little disingenuous.
Note, I also said that religious groups do not have a monopoly in these areas. I will contend however that it was religious groups who started these types of movements.
I try not to take these blogs too seriously and levity never hurt anyone... but I'm pretty sure I wasn't being 'disingenuous'. I wasn't pretending to NOT know more good religious things... I just listed a few items George Carlin style...
Understood! I think your comment was more approvable than his seven words you cannot type in a blog!
LOVE THAT MOVIE!
Semi-related tangent... I have never met another Intel professional who didn't have almost all Monty Python skits memorized... just a weird factoid I thought I'd share with everyone.
We run in different circles, yours sounds more fun than mine. I don't want to insult my crowd though. After all, every sperm is sacred!
Why is it that the posts on this blog are always compared to what gives a person porpuse in life? Many of the posters here have openly admitted they only come here on down time at work. Take my name. I primarily come here on my lunch break. So yes many people are regulars here, but this blog is not the center of most people lives. This is the internet, don't overthink it. I just come here to possibly hear new ideas or arguments. I have learned that 99% of what's posted is just unoriginal arguments recycled over and over again, but every now and then I read something that makes me think. Well, breaks over, back to real life.
Just asking a question, not overthinking it. You have to look long and hard for new thoughts or different perspectives in my experience, which is limited. I guess my question was rooted in the fact that there are lot of topics on blogs and in op/ed pages, what draws non believers to believer blogs? just curious, there is no alterior motive.
For me, it is the fascination with the psychology of belief.
I find it simply amazing the lengths that some people will go to, to convince themselves that belief is truth.
In a way though, you seem to enjoy belittling and insulting people of faith. Granted, many of them do the same, which is why I made the statement that they have an obligation to the faith they defend to behave in a different manner.
But I firmly beleive. I am highly educated (more than one degree, from highly regarded schools), I am skeptical and do not use the Bible as my only source for my belief. for me belief is more akin to faith than truth.
O Lord, please don't burn us.
Don't grill or toast Your flock.
Don't put us on the barbecue
Or simmer us in stock.
Don't braise or bake or boil us
Or stir-fry us in a wok.
Oh, please don't lightly poach us
Or baste us with hot fat.
Don't fricassee or roast us
Or boil us in a vat,
And please don't stick Thy servants, Lord,
In a Rotissomat.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’”
Then the priests answered and said, “No.”
And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”
So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”
Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. Haggai 2:11-14
– they are unregenerate, spiritually dead, unclean. touching them will not make them holy, however, if they are able to touch us we could become unclean. pray for His grace, that this does not happen.
No idea why this posted in the wrong place... I blame Satan
Leave it to the wandering dolt, scotty, the one who claims "EVOLUTION is beginning to crumble" (Noah's Ark discovery article) and the equally dim-wit Salero to conflate atheism with Communism/Maoism like the . Of course history shows for people like Hitler and Stalin that religious adherence and at times refutation were political tools and then at times obstacles for these despots. Whichever the case was at a specific time, as with many things besides religion, they were merely considered in light of real objectives – total control over the people.
But let's look at what's been going on in this democracy only within the past several years. What we have seen is a real nasty effort on the part of some Muslims and some Christians to circu.mvent or change law committing or promoting violence specifically in the name of their beliefs.
A team of evangelicals traveled from the U.S. to Africa with intent to incite the killing and jailing of some people there. Their efforts gained more traction with the blessing of the previous Pope and Anglican hierarchy. Scott Lively, leading the team of evangelicals has been charged for crimes against humanity under an Alien Torte statute.
Some Muslims in the U.S. have carried out honor killings here in recent years.
Let's hope that children do not come in contact with these dangerous dolts "awanderingscot" and "Salero21".
Now, let's check it out!
I meant those Commandments from GOD that are a stumbling block for communists atheists or atheistic communists.
Exo. 20:15 "You shall not steal.
Exo. 20:17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Now let's see some other teachings that communists/fascists/socialists and atheists can't stand to hear (or read) because it gets under their skins.
10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
11 If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all [kinds] of precious wealth, we will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us, we shall all have one purse,"
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed blood.
Atheists and idolaters are very fond of communism, fascism and socialism. They LOVE these ideologies/philosophies because it gives them the delusional illusion, that it can actually justify their charlatanism, chicaneries and dishonest shenanigans used to "borrow" (read steal) from others and not return it, compensate or make resti*tution.
The animal referred to as "Salero21" is one of nature's most primitive-minded creatures.
We have, finally been able to identify this common animal:
"I'm Mr. Meseeks! Look at me!"
That was so stupid Doris. Which again proves what I've been saying all along. Atheism is Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE. And you're a PRIME example of it! ☺☻
just one more thing Salero can't understand.
Well done Doris!
How old are you? Why do you need to get so stirred up? You have a belief in God. They do not. Atheist and believers lean on faith. The difference I see is you get angry and want to insult people because they disagree with you. Once they see you getting angry they keep going, and you encourage them with your reactions. DON"T.
You are not going to change their minds, you just are not. But your reaction to them makes me, a believer, think you are insecure about your belief.
Just an observation.
Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. – Colossians 2:4, NKJV
– don't let him rattle ya Sal, meekness doesn't mean we're wimps. he's not one of us anyway.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
you would actually call a brother out? and in front of unbelievers? no real brother in Christ would do that. why would you try to dampen his zeal for the Lord? and your comment about atheists leaning of faith, what's that all about? what kind of faith would that be, a saving faith? explain yourself graceless professor.
I have seen you attack TruthPrevails, awanderingscot, for name calling; why is it permissible for Salero21?
Attack is too strong a word. You called him out for name calling.
question for you: Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?
Answer my question first, awanderingscot.
But I'll answer it anyway; yes, Jesus came in the flesh.
And now, I'm tired, so, Good Night.
answer this question: was Jesus Christ also raised in the flesh?
you are worried and troubled by many things. Salero has a zeal for the Lord that will not be quenched.
Salero is a rude, juvenile troll who lacks the maturity to contribute anything other than insults. It's REALLY sad you can't figure that out.
awanderingscot, answer this question: do you think being a Christian affords you special privileges that you may act any way you please to anyone, anytime?
I like having my questions answered, also. If you cannot be respectful enough to answer mine, I suppose this conversation is over.
LOL, Salero and awanderingscot are cut from the same cloth. I wouldn't expect a real discussion from either of them.
Thanks. You've answered a question i had about you when you replied that yes "Jesus" came in the flesh. That's fine don't bother me either.
I'm sure there is more information than we need about how jesus came in the gospel according to Mary.
That could explain why it was left out when they compiled the bible.
Awanderingscot, you don't believe Jesus came in the flesh?
Well, well, of course communism is closely associated with atheism!! Actually communism, socialism and fascism are the economic ideologies/philosophies of choice of atheists. Idolaters also like atheists, LOVE communism, fascism and socialism. That's why we hear the leader of that Socio-political organization known as the RCC the Pope, talking socialism so often. Is something that's inherently part of their belief system, is embedded and ingrained in their souls. Is Endemic of their social view of the world.
They LOVE communism, fascism and socialism, because it gives them the ONLY illusion of justification to break God's Commandments of NOT TO STEAL and NOT TO COVET THY NEIGHBORS goods, properties and whatever else he/she have.
As noted on p. 1 of the comments:
And why did Communism take hold so strongly in places like Russia? Could it have been the policies of the "Christian" czars? Of course it was.
As an added note:
"Some have also claimed that early Christianity supported a form of communism through the teachings in the New Testament which emphasized sharing amongst everyone equally. Other ancient Jewish sects, like the Essenes, also supported egalitarianism and communal living." .
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
The belief in deities is the answer to ignorance, but provides no real answers. Only fools believe in things there is no evidence for.
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; – 1 Corinthians 1:27,NKJV
@ unreal reality,
Your pathetic attempt to justify the unjustifiable is PRIME Evidence of what I've been saying all along. Your Complete Ignorance of History and all the hot air you blew, are the stuff of what Charlatans are made of.
Atheists are extreme hypocrites and pathological LIARS, you're indeed proof of it.
Atheism/evolutionism/cultism/paganism and idolatry are Absolute, Complete and Total NONSENSE.
Contemporary evangelical Christians – leading the world in turning people off from Christianity.
@ derailed in the midwest,
We don't lead the world, we're not in charge of this world, we're in this world but we don't belong to this world. The world is leading itself, the world is following it's own. The world, this present world will end and be no more. You'll be held accountable for your own deeds not me. Can't blame nothing on me you fool. Therefore you derailed yourself.
Typical non sequitur response, Sal. You DO lead the world in turning people off from Christianity. By all means, though, keep your fingers in your ears. It's a good look for you.
Once again, the history of Jesus in summary form:
There was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(references used – the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years which are available upon request)
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me – John 14:6, NKJV
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." – John 3:17-21, NKJV
– no amount of proselytization will save the unregenerate, they damn themselves.
So is it "tough luck" for the BILLIONS of people who never heard of Jesus?
Communism, socialism and fascism are the economic ideologies/philosophies of choice of atheists and idolaters. No surprise here not at all! That's why I must insist on saying what I've been saying all along, that atheism is absolute, complete and Total NONSENSE. Atheists LOVE communism, fascism and socialism and so do Idolaters.
Is ti-thing a form of socialism?
WAS Not! But you're clueless of what it was; don't you?
Well, well but of course communism is associated with atheism!! Actually communism, socialism and fascism are the economic ideologies/philosophies of choice. No surprise here not at all! That's why I must insist on saying what I've been saying all along, that atheism is absolute, complete and Total NONSENSE. Atheists LOVE communism, fascism and socialism.
So you are saying that since a country become Communist, the inhabitants of said country magically became atheist?
OH there you go again Sharkira! Always lying, always the extreme hypocrite. Always twisting and playing with semantics in futile and useless attempts to make believe you know something or that I said what I didn't say. Isn't that stupid?
A simple question seems to make you very angry and aggressive.
Why is that?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” – John 3:16-21, NKJV
Sharkira is a PRIME example of what I've been saying now for almost a year in the Belief Blog. And it is that atheism is absolute, complete and Total NONSENSE. And as Sharkira once again DEMONstrated for the benefit of all, atheists/cultists/evolutionists/satanists/idolaters etc. etc. are indeed extreme hypocrites and Compulsive, pathological Liars.
I'm not an atheist, so why are you continuing to lie about me?
That's not very nice.
you are correct and you judge rightly, this person is an atheist in addition to being a liar
awanderingscot supports Salero!!
This is a riot! A match made in heaven.
You had better not be talking about me; I am neither an atheist, nor have I lied.
If you are bearing false witness against me, you should explain your reasons for doing so.
Akira, come out of your alter-ego now; your own comments in previous posts bear witness to you. by the way, i'm not in the least intimidated by your use of my name.
Scot, your name is clearly part of your username; if that offends you, I'm sorry. It's not intentional; I never intended to try and intimidate as it's part of your username...
Would you rather I call you awanderingscot? Okay.
I post under Akira only. I don't know who you are confusing me with, but please indicate who else you have confused me with and what you thinkI have lied about.
Remember one thing: dissenting opinion neither means one is an atheist or a liar.
"I post under Akira only. I don't know who you are confusing me with,"
– did i even mention that you posted under another name? hmmm .. now why would you say that? LOL
awanderingscot, I must have misunderstood what "Akira, come out of your alter-ego now" meant. I thought you thought I posted under a different name. I do not.
Akira, do you believe holy scripture is inerrant in it's entirety? do you believe His words are spirit? do you not understand His ways and therefore condemn Him in your heart? do you not understand that He is the potter and you are the clay? which kind of vessel are you purposed for, honor of dishonor? will you be raised up or will you be as broken shards? the free will He gave you will determine the outcome.
"He is the potter and you are the clay?"
Yep, in Christianity people are as valued as a pot...we are nothing more than things to be disposed of at the whim of the potter.
I am not an atheist.
Perhaps you yourself should revisit Mathew 7:1-5 and ponder why you feel it is your divine right to judge people erroneously and slander unrepentantly.
-whatever i bind on earth is also bound in heaven. and so you have something to look forward to when you wickedly misquote scripture..
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. – Revelation 12:10, NKJV
That you cannot equate the word of Scripture to what you have been doing is telling. It was written with good folks like you in mind.
Take the log out, son. You're attacking for no reason.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.