Alessandra Bocchi writes about the fate of Hong Kong's Christians at FirstThings.com. The freedom struggle there is about Hong Kong's independence. It's also a struggle for the freedom of the churches.
Bocchi writes that "Hong Kong citizens fear that this extradition bill would give the Chinese government power to extradite Hong Kongers to mainland China at will, threatening Hong Kong’s freedom."
That would pose a serious threat to Christians: "Christians in mainland China have suffered brutal oppression under the Communist party's relentless campaign against religion, and Christians in Hong Kong fear a similar fate awaits them. . . . In mainland China, it is no longer possible to buy a copy of the Bible online, and existing copies are confiscated if unauthorized."
As one pastor said, "They have already canceled the First Commandment—I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me—because it challenges the power of the Chinese President. What is at stake for us is really high.”
Some of the protests have had a distinctly Christian emphasis: "On August 23, Hong Kong Christians held a rally to protest the government. They wore shirts bearing Christian crosses and the words 'God bless Hong Kong.' They sang hymns, including 'Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.'"
The extradition bill has forced Christians together. Bocchi cites a Catholic woman who showed her a manifesto from both Catholics and Protestants. This is new, the woman explained: “We didn’t really communicate until now, but we all stand together against this extradition bill.”
Bocchi warns: "Today, Hong Kong has many crosses displayed on buildings, skyscrapers, and churches. Freedom of religion is protected under its Bill Of Rights. But should Hong Kong gradually lose its autonomy, the fate of people of faith will be uncertain."
Hong Kong is a crux, and not just for China. The next couple of centuries will be shaped in significant ways by what happens in China, and what happens in China will depend on how China deals with the church.
If Hong Kong retains its religious freedom, it could be a wedge to expand freedom for Christians on the mainland. If the protests fail, China will have an even freer hand to continue brutalizing untold millions of Chinese believers.
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