Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Shouwang Church (continued) 

Interesting article in the South China Morning Post this am about the Shouwang Church. The article was pretty well written, in contrast to much of what I read about China in the western media. I don't know..perhaps it isn't completely accurate to call the South China Morning Post "western media," since it is indigenous to Hong Kong. Yet, that is precisely why it tends to be viewed as such. It has never been under the strictures of China's communist regime, and the media controls that we are all so familiar with when it comes to papers published in mainland China.

I am back in Hong Kong again. News is a bit different here. I guess I should be more specific. News about China is different here. China's CCTV is a very well funded outfit. So there are many very informative programs. I find CCTV quite useful, actually. It is not true that Chinese media outlets are mere mouthpieces for the Communist Party. I rather think the party keeps itself quite removed from what goes on in the media most of the time. The problem is that in China everything is under the party. So if the party wants to use a given government media outlet as a mouthpiece, they do so at will. Notice I said, "government" media outlet. In today's China, there are many media outlets that are not government outlets. They cannot be used as mouthpieces for the party. So it is perhaps not accurate to say that they are "controlled" by the party. But even the media outlets that are not owned by the government are still regulated by the government. There are limits to what they can say, and if they violate those limits, they will pay the price.

There is one statement in the article with which I might argue a bit. The article refers to "clandestine" house churches. This is a common view that seems to be reflected in stuff you read about the house churches in China. In fact, although they don't tend to advertise their presence openly, it is not accurate to call them "secret." They used to be. There was indeed a time in the history of New China when house churches met in secret so as not to be discovered by the authorities. But that time has passed. House churches are not illegal in China, as mentioned previously.

I am a bit conflicted by this whole issue. The government policy I mentioned the other day actually has a good affect on the church in China. But is it the government's business to decide how churches should be organized? So while it is right to point out that the Shouwang church is and has been violating a policy in a way that they always knew could get them into trouble, it is heartening, in a way, to see a group of people challenging that policy in a way that forces the discussion about how much the government gets to dictate to a given church how large they can be. This is going to be interesting to watch.

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