'Leaders' do great disservice to their church

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 1997, 12:00am

I read with distress the report about the decision of the Lutheran World Federation to withhold two sentences in its assembly resolution, concerning human rights and religious persecution in China (South China Morning Post, July 24).

It is particularly disheartening for me, as a Hong Kong Christian, to see that it has been the local churches that have applied the pressure to force this appeasement.

Their arguments that such criticisms of China's record would be 'a great insult for the Chinese', and 'hurt the feelings of Chinese people around the world' are both true, but not in the way they meant.

These Christian 'leaders' who forced the Lutherans to back off have themselves insulted Chinese Christians and it is they who have hurt the feelings of Chinese like myself.

By taking this 'see no evil, hear no evil' approach, they should know that they have already sided with the devil. A look at Chinese church history will reveal the unhappy episode of the Three-Self Church movement.

Christians in the past have not reserved their feelings against those who acted against God because of 'hurting somebody's feelings'. This is clear from reading the Bible.

In fact, they would risk death to speak out for righteousness. And, sadly, this is what our brothers and sisters are doing in China, without the Lutherans' support.

A report released by the US Congress last week found prevalent raids and closure of hundreds of house churches since last October. Local authorities have employed threats, fines, demolition of property, detention and laogai as intimidation tactics. Numerous Christians remain in custody or their whereabouts are unknown.

Yet, local Lutheran leaders worry more about being 'considered unfriendly' by China.

I commend local Lutheran leaders like Dr Lam Tak-ho, president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, who dared to cast one of the dissenting votes. I pray to God that there will be more like Dr Lam.