Last week CNA published a report from the Italian daily “La Gazzetta dello Sport” stating that Bibles will not be allowed into the Olympic Village at the upcoming Olympic Games. Since then, CNA has learned that a contradictory set of policies has been put in place regarding the possession of the Bible at the international sporting event.
Making a slight change to its total ban on religious items, the Chinese Olympic Committee has decided, "devotional objects” will be allowed in compliance with Chinese "freedom of religion" laws, but “religious objects meant to propagate a cult” will not be permitted.
“La Gazzetta dello Sport” cites the Chief of Security Fu Qiang who said that he can't specify what objects are included under the item "propaganda" but can assure that personal religious items are permitted.
However, on the official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, a page titled "Entry and Exit: Entry" credited to the Beijing Tourism Administration reads:
"Any printed material, film, tapes that are 'detrimental to China's politics, economy, culture and ethics' are also forbidden to bring into China."
This is immediately followed by a caution about Bibles:
"Note: Each traveler is recommended to take no more than one Bible into China."
Chinese officials did not address the redefinition of the Bible as "propaganda" once the number of copies exceeds one.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation explains Chinese policy towards religion on its website: "The Chinese government views religion as a threat to its power. As a result, it restricts religious activities to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship. It also seeks to stamp out those religious activities that are not government-sanctioned."
The Foundation labels as false the Chinese government's promise of freedom of religion, saying "China continues to commit serious violations of religious freedom and belief. The Chinese government severely and systematically persecutes members of China's spiritual communities, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Evangelical Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, and members of the Falun Gong movement."
The Cardinal Kung Foundation also protests that Olympic prestige is diminished by the Chinese government's injustices, writing that "the noble name of "Olympic" is being severely tarnished by its association with the evil spirit of religious persecutions and human rights violations in China. This is about the time for the Olympic Committee to consider canceling the games in China in order to preserve their good name and spirit."
Currently in China five Catholic bishops and fifteen priests are in prison for opposing the state-sponsored Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church.
To read the original story on the Olympic Village ban on Bibles click here.
To visit the policy on Bibles on the official website for the 2008 Beijing Olympics click here.