By BosNewsLife Asia Service
WASHINGTON/BEIJING (BosNewsLife)– A major advocacy group with close ties to house churches in China has condemned a Chinese-government organized Bible exhibition currently touring the United States.
The China Aid Association (CAA) said the exhibition, which will also be hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), “is a government propaganda ploy to deflect attention from reports of growing religious persecution in China.”
The presentation, called “Thy Word is Truth”, just completed its first stop, in Washington where it was on display from September 28 to October 2. It is in Chicago from October 12 to 16 and in Dallas from October 30 to November 3.
The BGEA, founded by famed evangelist Billy Graham, will host the exhibition in the U.S. State of North Carolina from November 8 to November 19.
Graham has been criticized in the past for sometimes working with governments and state-backed churches of autocratic, or Communist, nations, for instance when holding evangelistic gatherings.
The evangelist and his organization have defended their actions, saying it is a Biblical obligation to spread “God’s Word” wherever possible.
CAA argued however that the picture presented by the exhibit of Bibles being printed and distributed throughout China overlooks “cases of house church Christians being arrested and sentenced to prison terms for doing precisely the same thing.”
It said American churches, Christian organizations and Christian leaders supporting the exhibition had “been misled and hoodwinked by this use of religion to engage in political and diplomatic trickery.”
CAA added that it had “written privately to these groups and individuals to explain the political and propaganda nature of the Bible exhibit, but received no reply from any of them.”
“In the end, what those persecuted and imprisoned brothers and sisters in China will remember is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends,” said CAA founder and pastor Bob Fu, referring to a similar statement by late American rights leader Martin Luther King.
The Chinese company handling the exhibition’s tour and logistics reportedly described the Bible event as being of “great political and propaganda significance.”
CAA said this confirmed that the “Bible exhibition is a political propaganda show” with the intent “to mislead members of the public, politicians, and church leaders overseas who are unaware of the realities in China.”
It added the exhibition will “cover up the Chinese government’s persecution of house churches and any government-approved church that dares to adhere to the principles of Christian faith and refuses to submit to the government’s political control and go against those principles.”
This is the second Chinese Bible exhibition to tour the United States in recent years. The first was in 2006 and went to Atlanta, New York City and Los Angeles.
There may be as many as 130 million Christians in China, many of whom prefer to gather outside the government-controlled denominations, according to Christian rights activists. China’s Communist government says Christians are free to worship within the state-backed churches.