Standing up for Christians in China is about standing up for freedom of conscience


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ABSTRACT Standing up for Christians in China is about standing up for freedom of conscience | CatholicHerald.co.uk Fri 11th Apr 2014 | Last updated: Fri 11th Apr 2014 at 12:57pm Home Latest News Features Comment & Blogs Multimedia Catholic Life Spiritual Life Saint of the week The week ahead The word this week Archive Jobs Advertising Subscribe Hot Topics Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Papal Visit 2010 general audience Archbishop Vincent Nichols Comment & Blogs Standing up for Christians in China is about standing up for freedom of conscience When will governments realise that religion is not their business and should not ever be their business? By Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith on Friday, 11 April 2014 In This Article Chinese , Russia , Stalin , Turkey , Zhejiang Share Share | About the author Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith Alexander Lucie-Smith is a Catholic priest, doctor of moral theology and consulting editor of The Catholic Herald. On Twitter he is @ALucieSmith Contact the author Related Posts Religious people must remember that history can’t be bypassed Pope Francis discusses ongoing war in Syria with Vladimir Putin There are, we are told, 800 million people for whom the ECHR is the last recourse against tyrannical governments. But does this argument really hold water? Bishop: Ukrainian Church battling to remain legal in Crimea Priest: Ukrainian Catholics flee Crimea to escape threats of arrest Zemanta Woman reads prayer book at Cathedral in Beijing (CNS) The persecution of Christianity is flourishing in certain parts of the world – if that is the correct term for it. The Chinese government, no friend to what it cannot control – seems to have embarked on a campaign of church demolitions. One seeming attempt at a demolition in the city of Zhejiang has been widely reported, as has the attempts by local people to stop the attempt. This might well be a bit of state sponsored persecution that spectacularly backfires. Let us hope so . The church in Zhejiang is a Protestant one, and the majority of China’s Christians are Protestants. While on the subject of Chinese Christianity, let us not forget the plight of the Catholics in China, who are forbidden by the state to have ties with Rome, and are only recognised by the state if they join the state-sponsored Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association . This represents blatant interference in religious matters by an avowedly atheist government, which is not just illogical, but betrays the Chinese government’s flagrant disregard for the rights of conscience. Religious people should be allowed to organise themselves as they please without interference from the state. That is the only correct way to proceed, and that is how things are in the West; and the West is right about this. This is one aspect of our Enlightenment heritage that we should all treasure: freedom of conscience, and freedom of association. The idea of the individual having rights that the state must respect is highly problematic for the Chinese, given their history, and it is highly problematic in two other countries that escaped the Enlightenment, namely Russia and Turkey. Those who are following events in Ukraine will be familiar perhaps with the tortured history of religious relations in that country. After the Second World War, the atheist Stalin (who, like so many other atheists, seemed to have an obsession with controlling religion) forcibly suppressed the Greek Catholic Church. It was only .......