Chinese Officials Confiscate Bibles from American Christians
The Associated Press is reporting that Chinese customs officials have taken 300 Bibles from four Americans who had intended to distribute them. Pat Klein, head of Vision Beyond Borders, said the Bibles were taken from the group's checked luggage after they landed in the city Kunming in the southern province of Yunnan.
"We're not selling them; we give them free to the people," Klein told the news service. "We didn't come to cause trouble, we just came to bring Bibles to help out the Chinese Christians."
According to Klein, customs officers said they each take one Bible, which was printed in Chinese, for personal use. They confiscated the rest.
Churches, mosques and other religious institutions are heavily regulated by the Chinese government. China has been routinely criticized for harassing and arresting those who try to organize religious services outside the state-run system.
Chinese officials say they have made special concessions during the Olympics by distributing bilingual copies of the Bible, Koran and other religious scriptures in the Olympic Village. But human rights groups have criticized China for banning foreign chaplains from being based there.
The Olympic charter prohibits demonstrations of "political, religious or racial propaganda" at venues but that has not prevented a number of athletes from the U.S. and other countries have been saying prayers or making other spiritual gestures before or after their events in Beijing.
For more information about U.S. Olympic athletes and religion, please see this article by my Post colleague Alan Goldenbach.
--Ariana Eunjung Cha
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