Friday, October 19, 2007

Atheist China Vows to Encourage Religion

Not buying it. China, one of the main persecutors of Christians, promises to make religious services available during the Olympic Games. Probably in one of their state run churches.

China has promised to offer religious services to foreigners at the 2008 Olympic Games and to have religion play a positive role in the future of the officially atheist country, the top religious affairs official said Wednesday.

A large number of religious athletes and tourists are expected at the Games and Beijing will “make sure” their religious needs are met, Ye Xiaowen, director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said to reporters at the ruling Communist Party’s 17th Congress, according to Reuters.

“Here I can promise that religious services we offer will not be lower than the level of any previous Games,” Ye said. He did not say, however, if China will allow proselytizing like other Olympic hosts.

Ye also urged the Vatican to establish diplomatic ties with China, where there are some 10 million Catholics either in state-approved churches or “underground” churches.

Catholics in state-approved church respect the Pope as a spiritual figurehead but do not recognize his authority as those in the “underground” church do.

Since 1949, China has not had diplomatic relations with the Vatican following the Communist revolution. There has been significant tension between the two powers because of differences on issues such as the authority to appoint bishops, the recognition of the pope, and the Vatican’s relationship with Taiwan.


Chinese religious affairs head Ye also dismissed accusations that China restricts the printing and sales of Bibles, saying the Bible is only distributed through [state-run] churches and not through bookshops.
They make them available in the state run churches because they want to control the distribution.