Sunday morning in Beijing, President Bush attended the Beijing Kuanjie Protestant Christian Church. After the government-established church service, the U.S. president gently encouraged the Chinese government to consider granting religious freedom to its citizens, telling them not to fear Christianity.
The president expressed that he and his wife experienced “great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing, China.” Bush explained that the service showed “that God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion.”
He also thanked the pastor and the choir for the warm welcome he and the first lady received. “I want to thank the pastor for his hospitality, and I want to thank this beautiful choir for singing Amazing Grace and Edelweiss. It was a touching moment. It has been a joy to worship here…God bless you.”
According to China Aid Association Inc, the church’s regular parishioners were not allowed to attend the Sunday service with President Bush. The organization claims that high-ranking officials from the Public Security Bureau, the Bureau of Security, the Bureau of Religion and TSPM/China Christian Council met to ensure that only security people, political workers and people trained to pose as Christians attended the service.
One man who was baptized two decades ago in the Protestant church lamented, “Whether you are a believer or not, no one is allowed to enter the church. When President Bush comes tomorrow, where can we do our Sunday service?”
The organization also reports that the Chinese government agencies went so far as to arrest two men while riding their bikes on the way to the service.
The men, who claimed that they had the right to attend the service and see President Bush, are affiliated with an underground Christian church and have been under the close eye of the government in the time leading up to the Olympics.