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Religious Freedom in China

Chinese Christian activist addresses repression in China

Bob Fu / AP
• April 24, 2013 6:00 pm

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A prominent Chinese Christian leader discussed religious freedom in the nation at the Family Research Council Wednesday.

Bob Fu is the founder and president of China Aid Association, an international non-profit Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and the rule of law in China. He is also editor-in-chief of the Chinese Law and Religion Monitor, a biennial journal on the same subjects.

He told the story of Chen Guangfu, whose house was attacked Sunday, April 21.

"The government orchestrated a group of thugs throwing stones and sticks, and even dead chickens and dead dogs and beer bottles," Fu said.

Guangfu is the brother of the blind activist and lawyer Chen Guangchen, who will address the American Bar Association’s Section for International Law Thursday afternoon.

Guangchen "had already verbally received a life threat from the party secretary of the village, because of the blind lawyer’s overseas advocacy for the rule of law and freedom."

"There are many other instances of Christian persecution in China," Fu told the Washington Free Beacon. "Over this past weekend, seven of the church leaders were sentenced to three to seven half-years imprisonment." The Chinese government condemned these four women and three men in Hunan province "for simply being house church leaders."

"We’re still on the planning end to schedule meetings with members of Congress and to brief the State Department," Fu said.

Fu discussed the difference between the house church movement and state-sponsored churches in China. The house church movement "is the majority of China’s underground church." He said the state-sponsored church is watered down and inauthentic and the government only allows one version of the Bible, which cannot be sold "in public places."

"There is a definite shortage of supply of Bibles in China," he said.

Fu grew up as an atheist. "I came to my Christian faith when I was in university, leading the student movement. … Organized that protest to Tiananmen Square, and we finally witnessed the atrocity by the Chinese government," he said.

After the protest, "the Chinese government took revenge against me, I was disillusioned, I despaired and contemplated suicide," Fu said.

For his own faith and advocacy, the Chinese government persecuted Fu, and he fled to America.

"President Bill Clinton and Secretary Madeleine Albright took us directly as refugees," he said, noting their "tremendous support" for him.

Fu praised President George W. Bush as well, but had sharp words for President Barack Obama.

"The current administration does not have a track record on the religious freedom issue, especially in diplomacy," he said.

Believers in Beijing’s Shouwang church in the past three years "have been taken into police custody more than 1,000 times, and there have been more than 800 short-term detentions."

The violence has not deterred believers. "Despite—or some would say because of—this persecution … Christianity has grown, over 100-fold," Fu said.

While there were fewer than 1 million believers in 1949, today a conservative estimate hits 60-80 million, and some have said as many as 130 million. Fu puts it slightly over 100 million.

Published under: China