In recent weeks, massive protests in Hong Kong drew the world’s attention, but while the media focused on the political issues at hand, little was made over the fierce battle over Christianity between Hong Kong and the communist Chinese regime.
The latest round of unrest was triggered by a proposed law allowing the extradition of people in Hong Kong to mainland China. Millions of people poured into the streets and into the legislature to denounce the bill and the firm belief that China is hand-picking politicians in Hong Kong to do its bidding.
The people of Hong Kong are determined to protect religious freedom (and their other freedoms). The Chinese government makes no secret that it wants to stamp out Christianity in China and in Hong Kong.
When the United Kingdom handed control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, a deal was struck to allow Hong Kong to effectively govern itself and maintain freedoms of religion, speech, and the press that it enjoyed under British rule.
That means Hong Kong residents are fully aware of how the Chinese are putting Muslims into concentration camps, persecuting Christians and churches, and reportedly harvesting the organs of Buddhist prisoners. Thus, Hong Kong is fiercely protective of the rights its people ought to have in full for another 28 years.
Colson Center for Christian Worldview President John Stonestreet says Hong Kong knows what the rest of the world needs to understand – that a vibrant Christianity is almost always accompanied by much freer societies than we see from atheist regimes and others.
Stonestreet says there are two main reasons for this, starting with the now almost universal understanding that each life has value.
“Every single person has inherent dignity from the moment of birth to the moment of natural death. That is a Christian idea that has now infected the world. Now everyone talks about human dignity as if it’s a thing, even though we disagree on what wee mean by that,” said Stonestreet.
He says that inherent dignity fuels the demand for freedom.
“We believe God created us. Not only did he give us dignity but he gave us freedom, that ultimately our conscience answers to him. My mentor, Chuck Colson, said it very well in the Manhattan Declaration. ‘We can ungrudgingly render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God,” said Stonestreet.
He says that is what compels China and other authoritarian regimes to try to stamp out the church. It simply cannot tolerate any challenge to its claim of absolute power. He says President Xi Xinping is trying to recreate himself in the mold of perhaps the worst mass murderer in world history.
“This is Mao-like stuff. The Christian gospel runs completely counter to that. When the early Christians said ‘Jesus Christ is Lord,’ there is an implicit ‘and Caesar is not.’ Well, when Hong Kong Christians say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ there is an implicit, ‘and the Chinese government – specifically Xi Xinping – is not,'” said Stonestreet.
“That very idea spawns all kinds of other freedoms, like freedom of speech and freedom of association, the freedom to order our public lives and how we set up our business around our deeply-held beliefs.
“So you can really see how the unique Christian idea of who we are as humans spawned freedom of conscience and how freedom of conscience and how freedom of conscience is really the foundation for all the other freedoms we have,” said Stonestreet.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more on the background of the Hong Kong-China tensions and China’s attempt to meddle in Hong Kong affairs. Stonestreet also explains how Chinese persecution is leading to a refugee crisis and how that crisis is putting the U.S. in a difficult position.