Tuesday, December 5, 2017
On Saint Nicholas Day, Think of China's Starving Christians and North Koreans Who Are Both Starving and Being Irradiated
THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS THAT IT IS SAINT NICHOLAS DAY. Saint Nicholas of Myra is a popular Christian saint among children across Europe because of his reputation as a bringer of gifts. Both the North American Santa Claus and the British Father Christmas are legendary figures whose attributes derive from the myths surrounding Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas' Day, observed on December 6 in Western Christian countries, on December 5 in the Netherlands and on December 19 in Eastern Christian countries. Born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280, Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew, transforming Saint Nicholas into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world. Many children in Europe put their little shoe near the hearth on December 5th before going to bed, hoping to find a gift from Saint Nicholas tucked into the shoe in the morning. Since Saint Nicholas was by legend a kind and caring soul who helped many peopele and loved children, it seems a good day to consider how the world is doing if we hold Saint Nicholas up as the example of human behavior at its best. • • • IS CHINA STARVING CHRISTIANS? The Conservative Zone reported last Saturday that : "Disturbing reports coming out of China reveal that President Xi Jinping has implemented an economic crackdown on the country’s poorest and most marginalized people -- Christians. A wide range of news reports have uncovered what may be the most despicable pay-for-play scheme ever created. China’s Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping has mandated that impoverished Christians and churches take down symbols of Jesus Christ and the cross and replace them with his likeness. The penalty for not adhering to this obvious idolatry is a threat to withhold government resources." That may seem like a small penalty, but in China, a Communist regime, people rely on the government for everything from clothing to shelter to even the ability to purchase food. And, despite ongoing efforts to enforce atheism, Christians have stood firm with their faith, with a Christian population of more than 100 million believers and growing. In recent years, the number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly. Christians were 4 million before 1949 (3 million Catholics and 1 million Protestants), and are estimated to be between 67 and 100 million today. Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion in China with average annual rate of 7%. • So, the Communist government uses propaganda to convince members of China’s Christian population that strong ties exist between their poverty and Faith, a brainwashing tactic that often goes on to claim that only President Xi and not Jesus Christ can help pull them out of the gutter and help restore nutritional and health needs. The Conservative Zone explains : "China utilizes what has been called a “poverty-relief fund” to assist its most vulnerable citizens when they suffer economic setbacks. The government recently made it abundantly clear those that do not strike down Christian images and replace them with large posters of President Xi will be cut off from these life-supporting resources. The brutal attempts to coerce people of Faith amounts to an official worship the Communist leader or starve policy." • 'Unauthorized' places of worship have emerged throughout China, and the growing Christian communities have been met with a variety of persecution methods, but economic sanctions appear to have the greatest coercive force. Reports have surfaced that approximately 1,000 Xi Jinping portraits have been circulated in impoverished villages. The head of the Huangjinbu people’s congress, Qi Yan, has been pushing the pay-to-play swap of these posters for posters and other images of Jesus. He simultaneously has control of the poverty relief fund in Yugan county and admits the campaign targets Christian families first and foremost, telling the South China Morning Post : “Many poor households have plunged into poverty because of illness in the family. Some resorted to believing in Jesus to cure their illness. But we tried to tell them that getting ill is a physical thing and that people who can really help them are the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi. Many rural people are ignorant. They think God is their savior.” The news report indicates that more than 600 Christian symbols have been removed, and more than 450 images of Xi have been put in their place. Many of the images of Jesus and the cross were displayed inside the private homes of the poor Chinese citizens. • Many villagers in the Yugan region have expressed a sense of oppression over the dictatorial withholding of food and resources. One resident went on the record stating that residents feel compelled to follow the government’s edict : “Some families put up gospel couplets on their front doors during the Lunar New Year, some also hang paintings of the cross. But they’ve all been torn down,” the resident who called himself Liu said, noting that many believers did not do so voluntarily, "They all have their belief and, of course, they didn’t want to take them down. But there is no way out. If they don’t agree to do so, they won’t be given their quota from the poverty-relief fund.” The Conservative Zone quotes Qi, the official responsible for shorting residents their poverty relief resources, who disagrees : "We only asked them to take down (religious) posters in the center of the home. They can still hang them in other rooms. We won’t interfere with that. What we require is for them not to forget about the Party’s kindness at the center of their living rooms.” • The message to China's 100 million Christians seems clear -- either turn your back on Jesus Christ, or starve. • • • CHRISTIANITY ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY. The Diplomat on September 28 published an article by Eugene K. Chow, who writes on foreign policy and military affairs. Chow says : "Threatened by the rapid, uncontrolled growth of Christianity, the Communist Party is gearing up for a sweeping crackdown. Although China is officially an atheist nation, Protestant Christianity is thriving. According to some estimates, there are as many as 115 million Protestants in China, and it is one of the fastest growing demographics in the country. One analyst predicts that by 2030, China will have more than 247 million Christians, including Catholics, making it the world’s largest congregation. But much to the authoritarian government’s chagrin, the overwhelming majority of this booming cohort of Chinese Christians are meeting in underground churches. Only state-sanctioned religious organizations are allowed to operate in China, and official churches are closely watched. In recent years, many state-sanctioned churches have been forced to install surveillance cameras, and preachers, selected by the government, are monitored to ensure that their sermons do not broach taboo topics." Chow says the Chinese Party wants "the pastor to preach in a Communist way. They want to train people to practice in a Communist way.” An underground church leader, who spoke anonymously to the UK Telegraph, explained that state churches often avoid potentially subversive portions of the Bible. For instance, the Old Testament book that tells the story of Daniel, who is exiled and refuses to worship the king as he is ordered and instead worships God, is “very dangerous.” Preachers have also been pressured to show their loyalty to the Communist Party and have taken to praising President Xi Jinping and incorporating Party propaganda into their sermons. • It is these heavy-handed propagandist tactics that have made many Chinese Christians turn to underground churches. According to Yang Fenggang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University, of China’s estimated 93 to 115 million Christians, less than 30 million attend official churches. State officials are aware of this, and in early September new regulations aimed at curbing non-state sanctioned houses of worship were passed. The new law takes effect on February 2, 2018, and will impose heavy fines on organizers of unofficial religious events and prohibit them from carrying out basic functions like receiving donations, providing religious information online, or teaching children. Wang Zuoan, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, explained that the new law was necessary because “the foreign use of religion to infiltrate [China] intensifies by the day and religious extremist thought is spreading in some areas.” • Article 36 of the Chinese constitution ensures that citizens “enjoy freedom of religious belief,” Wang said, “freedom of religious faith is not equal to religious activities taking place without legal restrictions. These rules will help maintain the Sinicisation of religion in our country...and keep to the correct path of adapting religion to a socialist society,” he added. • So, Christians can worship in China -- in state-authorized churches that preach atheist state-approved religion. Why? Because there is nothing more subversive to atheism than Christians gathering to hear the Bible preached -- the Communist Party sees it as undermining its authority. Professor Yang says the Communist Party is “still not sure if Christianity would become an opposition political force” and fears it could be used by “Western forces to overthrow the Communist political system.” • The Chinese constitution's grant of "freedom of religious belief" is, as in all totalitarian states, meaningless window-dressing meant to fool the world. Two years ago, the Chinese government moved aggressively against Christian churches. In Zhejiang, the provincial governor, one of President Xi’s top lieutenants, tore down crosses from 1,200 to 1,700 churches and jailed hundreds of house church leaders. The campaign was met with strong international condemnation and local protests. In one violent incident, 50 church members were injured when they were beaten back by police officers. • And, despite Pope Francis's efforts to avoid conflict with China -- for reasons not well explained by him or the Vatican -- China has been working to exert greater control over official Catholic churches. Six decades after China broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican, the two sides are negotiating an agreement to re-establish formal ties -- some Vatican officials say the agreement is already in place informally -- but any such agreement would legitimize China’s state-sanctioned churches while further cementing its control. Thankfully, efforts have stalled, with both sides insisting on having the ultimate authority to appoint clergy. Now, clergy are appointed by the joint approval of both the China and the Vatican. And, although the Pope's and the Vatican's effort to appease China has led the Chinese government to ease up on the nation’s 12 million Catholics, according to a report from Freedom House, China is cracking down more heavily on largely Protestant underground churches, arresting members and pastors on trumped up charges in the hopes of pushing them to join official congregations. • The Diplomat's Chow says : "From college campuses and the the media to the military, churches are just another battleground in President Xi’s efforts to ensure the Communist Party reigns supreme in all walks of life. Religious expression will be allowed to continue in a token form so long as it conforms to the standards set by party officials. While the Communist Party has developed increasingly sophisticated ways to manipulate its citizens, it remains to be seen if the government can successfully subvert a religion that has withstood repeated repression over its 2,000 year history. Given Christianity’s long, enduring track record, party officials are perhaps rightly worried." • • • CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES TRY TO FEED STARVING NORTH KOREANS. The Christian Post's Jay Gotera reported in June, 2017, that : "Local missionaries have found ways to get food aid to the starving people of North Korea many of whom have reportedly been forced to eat grass to survive while others are dying of hunger. Christian ministries based both inside North Korea and China have told Christian Aid Mission harrowing accounts of the sufferings being endured by the North Koreans and the high tension along the border. The leader of an indigenous ministry reported that Chinese soldiers are near the border, ready to rush in should the regime of Kim Jong-un fall....The ministry leader said suspicion is spreading on the Chinese border and within North Korea that the regime has become shaky, which explains the presence of Chinese forces near the border to prevent South Korea and the United States from filling any power vacuum. The missionary also reported that North Koreans 'have nothing to eat' since 'their grains have run out' because of the extended winter in their area. His statement was corroborated by the director of an indigenous ministry on the North Korean side of the border who reported cases of deaths due to starvation : 'Now our missionary sees there are so many people on the mountains picking up that grass because they are so hungry right now.' Fortunately, the local missionaries have been able to find ways to transfer nearly 1,500 tons of donated corn to starving North Koreans." The ministry director told Gotera : "If we send rice, their officials and other powerful people will take it. That's why we decided we'd send corn. This corn they don't eat; only the poor people or farmers eat corn." • • • STARVATION AND RADIATION POISONING IN NORTH KOREA. Fox News reported on Tuesday that harmful radiation from the North Korea nuclear testing site has triggered some serious health problems, according to a new report : "North Koreans who defected but once lived near a nuclear testing site in the rogue nation now believe they are experiencing the dangerous effects of exposure to harmful radiation -- and it’s triggered severe health problems, according to a report published Sunday. So many people died we began calling it 'ghost disease,' Lee Jeong Hwa, who in 2010 escaped her home in Kilju County where the nuclear testing site Punggye-ri is located. Lee told NBC News, 'We thought we were dying because we were poor and we ate badly. Now we know it was the radiation.' Lee isn’t the only defector who believes the radiation is taking its toll on people who lived there. South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported in November that close to two dozen defectors said the area surrounding Punggye-ri is turning into a 'wasteland' where vegetation is dying and babies are born with deformities. The defectors said drinking water in the area came from Mount Mantap, where nuclear tests reportedly were conducted underground." There is also concern that strong winds could blow lingering radiation to Japan across the Sea of Japan. • Rhee Yeong Sil told NBC News that before she defected in 2013, a neighbor of hers gave birth to a baby so deformed that nobody could determine its gender. Rhee said : "It didn’t have any genitals. In North Korea, deformed babies are usually killed. So the parents killed the baby." • Lee told NBC News that South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has tested her, along with other defectors, and has found no signs of contamination due to radiation from nuclear tests. It’s “assumed” that cancer or other diseases found in North Korean defectors are due to nuclear testing, but it’s hard to confirm, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety told NBC. • • • DEAR READERS, whether you are Christian or of another faith, or atheist, these stories of starvation and nuclear radiation should anger you. The regimes in China and North Korea differ only in degree, not in intent or methods. Food is a weapon. Christianity is outlawed. Those who are uncooperative are brainwashed and starved. The state is in total control of every life and will not accept freedom of thought or religious practice. • These are the regimes that should be condemned. But, the UN and most of the world prefer to tell the lie that it is President Trump and the American military who are the aggressors. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real aggressors are those who turn a blind eye to the Chinese and North Korean totalitarian regimes and pretend that their people are happy and "progressing." That is a lie that needs to be broadcast as widely as possible. As for Pope Francis, he perhaps thinks that appeasing the Chinese regime will buy peace and religious semi-freedom for China's Catholics. It will not. it will only lead to the next round of screw tightening on Christians. • China, especially, is a scar on the conscience of the world. The Chinese Communist Party leadership starves its uncooperative Christians and tries to prevent Christian missionaries from feeding starving North Koreans, and it pretends to abhor what North Korea is doing while it sends petroleum to Kim Jong-un for uses that irradiate more North Koreans -- that is the truth the world should be telling about the Chinese Communist regime which turns a smiling face to diplomats and welcomes world leaders with pageantry and banquets, while it continues its brutal effort to root out Christianity and all other forms of individual liberty and freedom from its "People's Paradise." • Happy Saint Nicholas Day. Be grateful to God that you can say the words and celebrate the feast without hiding in an underground church or facing the threat of starvation.