Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@TheIRD.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@TheIRD.org; both with the Institute on Religion and Democracy
WASHINGTON, August 13 /Christian Newswire/ -- The chief music director for the Beijing Olympics recently revealed that the young girl portrayed as singing during Friday night's ceremony was actually lip-synching another girl's voice. This revelation is unsurprising to critics of the Chinese government, who allege that such showmanship is also characteristic of the state's treatment of religion.
China has provided Bibles for athletes, officials and spectators. At the same time, the government has requested travelers to only take one Bible into China, ensuring that no mass distribution of Bibles takes place. It has imprisoned a Beijing book store owner for printing and selling Bibles and other Christian literature, charging him with "engaging in the printing and distribution of a large number of illegal publications." It has also cracked down on Christian Bible teachers and house church pastors.
Another example of staging is alleged with the service that President and Mrs. Bush attended at a registered Church in Beijing. The China Aid Association reports that in elaborate efforts to control the situation, officials prevented "ordinary believers" from entering the church and replaced them with "security people, political workers, and people trained by them to pose as believers."
IRD Director of Religious Liberty Programs Faith J.H. McDonnell commented,
"The revelation of the lip-synching young girl at the opening ceremonies should be no surprise to those familiar with the Chinese government's attempts to cover its repression of Christians and control of the churches by 'lip-synching' Christianity. Religious freedom in China is as much of a show as the Olympic opening ceremony has turned out to be.
"President Bush's message to Hu Jintao is exactly right. The Communists believe that by 'lip-synching' religious freedom over religious repression, they can create an image of freedom but still remain in control. They don't seem to understand, that as President Bush said, 'once religion takes hold in a society it can't be stopped.'
"Last year the official church-affiliated printing company produced 6.7 million Bibles. The paradox is that if you are willing to submit to government control in a state-sanctioned church, you are free to have a Bible. If you are a house church Christian, your Bible is contraband."