August 19, 2008

Bible smugglers caught in China


by David Masters

A stand-off between Chinese officials and an American missionary group has ended after the missionaries feared for their safety.

Members of the missionary group Vision Beyond Borders attempted to take 300 Bibles into Yunnan, south west China, for distribution among the local population.

However, they were stopped at Kunming airport, and the Bibles were confiscated.

After the confiscation, the group remained at the airport, refusing to leave until the Bibles were returned.

The stand-off was called off 26 hours later when the missionary’s leader, Pat Klein, became concerned that he and his colleagues – including a 78 year old and a 15 year old – would be forcibly removed from the airport.

Klein said he was disappointed by the confiscation of the Bibles and said that they weren’t bringing in drugs or anything evil, just Bibles.

A US embassy official later informed the group that to import Bibles violates Chinese laws, which state that religious products can only be brought into the country for personal use.

Missionary activity is banned in China, and those who worship in churches, mosques or temples not sanctioned by the government are frequently harassed.

Many people in China are sent to prison or labour camps because of their beliefs.

Bibles are only allowed to be printed in China under state supervision, and can only be used in state-sanctioned churches and some hotels.

Hundreds of Christian missionaries have managed to enter China recently by posing as regious mentors to their national Olympic teams.

Many of them are handing out illegal religious booklets and DVDs, and have found the Chinese to be a receptive audience.

Those caught proselytising are likely to face arrest and deportation.

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