Evangelicals debate competing for souls at Beijing Olympics

June 13, 2008

Cross-like supports for pole valuting at the Good Luck Beijing China Athletics Open, 22 May 2008/David GrayBesides the usual Olympic sports, another competition seems to be shaping up for the Beijing Games in August — evangelisation. Christian organisations are debating whether they should use the Games as an opportunity to spread the faith among the Chinese during those weeks. China seems determined to control religious activity during the Games and allow only religious services for foreigners attending the Games. But doing covert missionary work in difficult areas — usually Muslim countries — is a challenge some Christian groups relish.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) discussed this recently with an article entitled “Should Christians Evangelize at the Beijing Olympics?” The prominent U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham angered some fellow evangelicals by saying they should not go to China and preach outside approved channels. But groups such as 4 Winds Christian Athletics disagree. They want athletes competing in Beijing to speak about their faith during interviews. The group’s head, Steve McConkey, said: “Christians should use caution and do as God leads.”

Carl Moeller, head of the Open Doors U.S.A. group defending persecuted Christians worldwide, told Mission Network News: “We’re actually encouraging travellers to the Olympic Games to call Open Doors, to visit Open Doors and to get from us some materials that are specifically designed for evangelism during the Olympic Games. We feel like evangelism during the Olympic Games will be a tremendous opportunity.” At the bottom of the story is a link to the Open Doors U.S.A. website saying: “If you’re traveling to ChMarathon runners pass the National Olympic Stadium in Beijing, 30 April 2008/Jason Leeina for the Olympics and would like helpful tools to share your faith during the games, click here.

China showed how vigilant it can be after the Sichuan earthquake, when it searched Christian aid groups for any signs they might try to proselytise and turned away any suspected covert missionaries.

There are often calls to keep politics out of the Olympics. Does the same hold for religion?

25 comments

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Just because I like cheeseburgers and Li Po doesn’t, it doesn’t mean he is wrong and I’m right. We both have certain beliefs and stick by them but by gosh I’m not going to force a hamburger down his throat and I don’t expect the same in return. As long as we both have our belly’s full who is to say which belief is right? Give it a break crusader kids.

Posted by april | Report as abusive

The proseltisers are driven by blind faith, and like most nut-jobs think their opinion is the only one that matters.

Evangelism inherently implies that one person’s beliefs, faiths, or creed is superior than anothers’. I don’t believe that it should have a place during the olympics. The olympics should symbolise global unity. If evangelicals are truly concerned about their international brothers and sisters, they should promote more cultural understanding and exchanges, which emphasize equality and shared values.

Posted by stephen | Report as abusive

Absolutely, religion should be kept out of the Olympics, as well as out of politics, schools, sport, international relief work, community centers, public transit, public thoroughfares, and all public life. Religion is a cancer in this great world.

The political discussions and protests taking place because of China’s hosting of the Olympics is well-suited to this event. If not now, then when will we discuss China’s crackdown on Tibetan protests, internet filtering, and the Chinese police-state? Now is the perfect time for these political discussions, because of, and in, the Olympics.

Posted by Philip Foiles | Report as abusive

The whole world is a battleground, and fertile soil for evangelistic movement. It’s interesting that we condone all sorts of activity that are not Olympic related during the Olympics, but are quick to find fault with Christian evangelism. For the Christian, this is not new, to be faulted and tred on, but instead, we count it as gain, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Every stripe we take, is another victory for the Cross. Amen.

Posted by Rick Hendrickson | Report as abusive

I agree with the earlier comments. The very nature of such evangelism is a superiority complex against the other’s belief system. Be happy with your faith, don’t feel the need to preach; especially in an event like the Olympics.
Promote love, tolerance and understanding, and feed the poor and so on; just don’t preach. There should be no ‘my way or no way’ mentality. That is what leads to intolerance and hatred.

Perhaps an annual global convention can be created for evangelic preachers of all faiths; the proceedings could spice up C-SPAN quite a bit.

Part of evangelizing is helping others. Those evangelizing should concentrate on the earthquake victims. Christians’ job is to love all people. Those participating in the olympic games are getting plenty of love from their fellow countrymen and may not need as much as the earthquake victims. :-)

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive

As Barry McQuire of “eve of Destruction” fame said in a song he sang after becoming a Christian, “where ever I go I take me”. As Christians we are to share of hope in the truth here ever we go or whatever we do. It is the Christians God given privilege to freely give that which they were freely given as God opens the doors and opportunities, but always in a sensitive and loving manner.

Posted by Randy G. | Report as abusive

All these anti-evangelism comments are ignorant of what is evangelism. Calling it a superiority complex or shoving it down peoles throats is flat out stupid and hypocritical. If your really understood the good news you would know that it has nothing to do with someone or a group of people being better than another or about forcing people to believe it. It has to do with sharing what some believe to be the truth and truth has consequences in that it is either accepted or rejected. The choice is left to the hearer. And since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God all of are in need of the gospel – period – there is no superiority in that fact. Furthermore, most people who hold to any form of philosophy, political system, or ideology try to pursuade people of their beliefs. If God is real and He did send His Son and gave His people a command to share that which is there only hope then nothing in this world is going to take precedent over that command. People share the gospel because of these things and because they are genuinly concerned for there spiritual well being. It seems you are the ones who have hatred in your harts – clouded by your emotional backlash agaisnt God given standards that you are accountable to – towards Christians. The Truth marches on.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

it puzzles me that so many people say that religion is a cancer and should extinguished from culture. why? if you say it has killed millions of people, that is true. islam teaches that the infidels ought to be destroyed, but where does Jesus ever teach this? any political agenda masked over with christian undertones is not religion but the depravity of man leaking out in the name of religion (we see this in the presidential campaigns going on today). besides that, atheistic nations like hitler stalin, and pol pot who made it a point to reject God and millions were destroyed. i think they ought to head in there and do some evangelization. why not? if there is no God, what does it matter anyway…and of course evangelization is in some way shape or form a way of saying another person is wrong. There can only be one form of truth in the world. That’s common sense. that’s what Christ did, he came to reveal the the dreadful condition of mankind (is this not evident throughout the world all the time?), but he also provided a solution, the cross.

Posted by Bob T | Report as abusive

As an American may I formally apologize to the Chinese in advance for the massive assault on their intelligence as the evangelicals come to Beijing to evangelize or whatever those funky mystics are doing these days.

Posted by solu | Report as abusive

Part of the problem with Christian organizations’ work in countries such as China where unregulated Christianity is illegal is that these Christian organizations are just that, ‘organizations’. Somewhere along the line believers missed the point of being a Christian and instead of living their lives according to the values and beliefs of their faith and allowing those values and beliefs to impact the relationships around them, they have compartmentalized their faith by putting it into an impersonal organization. In fact, Western Christians have the most to lean from Christians in China where Christianity is growing faster than any other place in the world without any formal organization. Why? Because Chinese Christianity relies on small, grass roots groups who base their support not on money or external aid, but on simple relationships, a value not to be underestimated in Eastern cultures (and nearly every other non-Western culture for that matter).

We seem to be ignoring a very basic premise: not everyone believes in a christ that died for our sins. Your “Truth” is not truth. It is a personal belief, which I respect and allow you to have. I myself believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which came to Earth to save me from my desolation. I will preach it from on high, “All Hail the Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster”. Do I have a right to preach this to my Chinese Brethren? Absolutely Not! Keep the cancer, a.k.a. religion, out of all public life, and I’ll let you believe whatever you want.

Posted by philip | Report as abusive

For your info solu there are over a 100 million Chinese christians in China – but I guess you didn’t mind offending them – so your intelligence.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

Evangelising is just a load of excremental nonsence.

Who wants a bunch of fake hypocrites trying to enlist more donation giving members?

Religion and the anti-Christian ethos that these hypocritical and cynical evangelists unwittingly promulgate, is the last thing the Chinese need.

Far better to further a set of moral precepts, centred on human rights and laws that protect minority groups, than adopt a load of half-baked teachings regurgitated by a bunch of quacks who profess to be Christian, but are just a rag-bag of bigoted, patronising, invasive, disingenuous control freaks.

IF they were Christians they would follow the doctrine of Jesus Christ and by the way they lived make witness for Him.

Time for a reality check.

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive

No matter how great your faith is in your religion, the fact is, in this case, we must respect the laws of China. The fact is: China has no freedom of speech. That means you can’t say anything you want or face certain penalties as set forth by the government.

Warning; It is your goal to become a Martyr then go to China and zealously spread the Gospel. Imprisonment will certainly follow or worse.

China is a strict Communist state. Understand it, enjoy their country,the olympics, abide by their laws and all will be well.

My suggestion: there are many ways to evangelize any country. You just have to look. But, the risks in China are too high.

just look to texas where the evangelicals are attacking other religions. is yours the next on there list

Religion. Keeping you in your place for thousands of years.

Posted by Kent | Report as abusive

evangilisation doesn’t mean you force poeple to believe what you believe. What’s wrong with these people going to China and telling people about their faith? But the Chinese government FORCE people not to believe what they don’t believe. That’s the evil part.

Posted by eoedee | Report as abusive

No matter how great your faith is in your religion, the fact is, in this case, we must respect the laws of China. The fact is: China has no freedom of speech. That means you can’t say anything you want or face certain penalties as set forth by the government.
_________________________________

Yes, China has its own laws, but what if these laws are not just? you choose to keep silent and do nothing while these people choose to challenge these and you criticise them?

Posted by eoedee | Report as abusive

We seem to be ignoring a very basic premise: not everyone believes in a christ that died for our sins. Your “Truth” is not truth. It is a personal belief, which I respect and allow you to have. I myself believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which came to Earth to save me from my desolation. I will preach it from on high, “All Hail the Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster”. Do I have a right to preach this to my Chinese Brethren? Absolutely Not! Keep the cancer, a.k.a. religion, out of all public life, and I’ll let you believe whatever you want.

- Posted by philip

_________________________

Phillip, continue to believe your Flying Spaghetti Monster and no one cares. You can even preach it and I don’t think the Christian evangelist would FORCE you to give up your beliefs. So what’s your problem with other people telling about their faith?

Posted by eoedee | Report as abusive

If it weren’t for evangelists I would be just another scumbag bar bouncer trying to fill up the hole in my heart with all the wrong things.

Thank you Jesus, (Yeshua) for filling my heart with you so that I can truly find my identity, not in this fallen world, but in your love.

Jesus has reconciled me with God, and I truly know what love is because I have been forgiven of sooooo much.

I had to accept his gift though, and that meant killing my pride, selfish ways, basically my self so that he can live in me.

I’m not brainwahed, some religious cook, or confused, just thankful that God is for real and cares. The drastic change in my life proves God’s existence. I realize now that God was waiting for me to want to know him before he could fix me up.

To all my brothers and sisters in Christ I encourage you in your walk, and to those who don’t yet know God I encourage you to knock on the door, and it will be opened unto you, seek him and you will find him. Call on the name of Jesus and you will be saved. I love you.

Posted by Joshua | Report as abusive

Chinese authorities must accept that everyone has the right to peacefully practice their religious beliefs, whatever they may be.

Discuss, debate, take action on China’s ongoing human rights abuses at Amnesty International Australia’s new microsite http://www.uncensor.com.au.

God I wish Bill Hicks was still around. He would have a field day with this…

Posted by Nu'man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

There is no crime in sharing who you are, being “yourself”. True christians are not “religious” but have “put on Christ” and He is a part of them. Being thankful, quick to praise God, etc. Therefore, sharing their “faith”, will be a natural outcome! It IS who they are! Athletes, just live for Him and “be ready to give an answer” to anyone who asks! By your life, attitude,compassion, how you react or don’t react are all part of your testimony!

Posted by Teresa Stickel | Report as abusive

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[...] that doesn’t stop the determined evangelical from going there anyway. In 2008, a number of Christian mission organizations encouraged people traveling to the Beijing Olympics to do a little faith witnessing while they were [...]