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HONG KONG: Anglican Archbishop Walks Himself into a Minefield over Pro-Democracy Advocates

HONG KONG: Anglican Archbishop Walks Himself into a Minefield over Pro-Democracy Advocates
Christianity grows in China, Anglicanism has minimal impact in Hong Kong

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
December 22, 2019

The liberal Anglican Archbishop of Hong Kong, the Most Rev. Paul Kwong invoked outrage when he told a congregation during a sermon on the crucifixion of Christ that pro-democracy advocates should keep quiet.

The archbishop caused a political uproar after he said that pro-democracy advocates in the city should keep quiet, just as "Jesus remained silent" in the face of crucifixion.

The sermon at St. Paul's was posted on the church's website, where reaction was swift, with some branding the sermon as "outrageous" and "sarcastic" accusing Kwong of using "Jesus to fit some personal values".

In Sunday's sermon, Kwong said: "Whenever people see me or other church leaders, they will say, 'We must speak up! Speak up at all times, on everything. It is a must to fight'.

"Why do people have to speak up so much? [It appears] as if they wouldn't have another chance, as if they were dumb otherwise," said Kwong, who is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The CPPCC is a political legislative advisory body in the Communist Party of China.

Kwong also took a sarcastic tone towards the 511 protesters who were arrested during a sit-in at Chater Road, Central, following the annual July 1 rally.

"Last week some students arrested ... told reporters: 'We had no food to eat. We had to queue up for the toilet'. I would say 'why didn't they bring along their Filipino maids to the march?'"

The Rev. Peter Douglas Koon, provincial secretary general of the Sheng Kung Hui, or the Anglican Church, tried to cool the outrage by saying the archbishop did not intend to belittle anyone. He likes to make reference to current affairs to liven up his speech," he said. But the damage had been done.

Occupy Central co-organizer Dr. Chan Kin-man questioned Kwong's stance.

"Believers and society expected religious leaders to speak up to manifest the value of their belief ... Kwong could make people disappointed about the Anglican church," Chan said.

One Christian woman from the Sheng Kung Hui told an RTHK radio program yesterday: "He is really outrageous. He has changed since his CPPCC appointment."

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Secretary General of the Federation of Students, which organized the Chater Road sit-in, said Kwong's remarks were not only sarcastic, but devoid of the love of a Christian.

"Is love one fundamental doctrine of Christianity?" he asked, questioning Kwong's approach.

Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing said it was disappointing that Kwong had lashed out at the students.

However, 26 academics, including Professor Timothy O'Leary, head professor of the University of Hong Kong's School of Humanities, and Dr. Mirana May Szeto, expressed their support for the students who were arrested.

The deeper truth is that the Christian churches in Hong Kong have been in the vanguard of change with the Chinese government intensifying its rhetoric against these churches in Hong Kong, portraying them as part of the "foreign hostile forces" that seek to create political unrest aimed at bringing down China's one-party rule.

A video titled "Chaotic Hong Kong religious groups abandon God's will," posted on a People's Daily's microblog, begins with a broad accusation: "Churches that stir chaos in Hong Kong have become political organs.... Let's strip them of their religious cloaks--those religious con artists who meddle in politics and poison young people!"

Christian churches and many Christian clergy have tried to play a mediating role since the start of the crisis, but their criticism of police brutality during the demonstrations and violations of human rights has provoked the Chinese government's wrath. No such criticism has come from the Anglican church which has sought to pacify criticism of the Communist government.

CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA

China has an estimated 60 million Christians, 9 million of them Roman Catholic.

China has no First Amendment and the churches are growing.

China has no Second Amendment and the church continues to grow without gun ownership.

There are more practicing Christians in China than all of Europe put together.

Chinese Christians are undergoing systematic persecution as their churches are torched and crosses torn off walls and people imprisoned.

With more persecution, the churches continue to multiply and grow with new converts every day.

The two official co-opted state "Christian" churches - Catholic and the Three Self Movement cannot stop the growth of the underground church. Archbishop Kwong is on the wrong side of history. His siding with the official Chinese position shows the growing irrelevancy of Anglicanism on this crowded island.

There are about 500,000 Protestants in Hong Kong. The Anglican church, known as the Sheng Kung Hui, can claim only 40,000 followers, a mere drop in the bucket.

Kwong's stance will equally outrage Nigerian Anglican leaders who have seen their people slaughtered in the thousands by Boko Haram and Fulani Tribesmen.

END

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