Christians fight against Communism as Hong Kong protests continue
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The massive rallies in Hong Kong for political independence from China's overbearing Communist government have seen considerable support from the local Christian communities-both Catholic and Protestant-despite the issue being wholly secular.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students (HKFCS) were part of a protest of thousands outside the government buildings in Tamar Park, protesting Beijing's curbs to universal suffrage, as well as to hand out bread.
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"Tamar Park is far from eateries and some students found it a burden to walk a long way for meals and simply did not eat," said the group's president Francis Lam. "The bread was donated by Christian patrons."
Christians have been a massive part of the independence movement in Hong Kong from the get-go, and the massive student rallies that have been ongoing lately have seen a particularly large amount of Christian participation, primarily due to Beijing's highly anti-religious government.
These rallies have been seen by some as a clear sign that the Catholic Church supports the pro-democracy movement.
Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun spoke to crowds on September 24, urging them to ignore the Communist government, which declared in August that it would begin nominating candidates to govern Hong Kong starting in 2017.
"In a place where education is not sufficient, people will get cheated easily. There will be danger of manipulation. However, the basic conditions in Hong Kong are ready. People are mature enough," he said. "Beijing does not allow civil nomination because they fear. They do not trust in us, thinking that we will intentionally choose a leader who will confront them."
When asked how or if a Christian should be involved in politics, Zen answered that "For the Catholic Church, everyone has the right and duty to get involved, though it may be in different degrees of participation."
Many churches in Hong Kong have also been used as sites to support the protesters, and many leaders among the pro-democracy movement are Christians.
The founders of the Occupy Central movement-which is already amping up for more protests-are Protestants.
Joshua Wong, the student protest leader who brought 1,200 students to join the rally on the 26 is also Protestant.
A former chief secretary and a well known protester, Anson Chan; the founder of the pro-democracy newspaper the Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai; the founder of the Hong Kong Democrat Party, Martin Lee, are all Catholics.
Along with Cardinal Zen, they have been branded the "four troublesome gangsters of Hong Kong" by state-run newspapers.
Oddly enough for the amount of high-profile Christians, Protestants make up just 7% of Hong Kong's population, and Catholics just 5%.
A professor of politics at the City University of Hong Kong, Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, said that Christians have the greatest cause to oppose Beijing.
"The proportion of Christians supporting the movement is higher than the proportion of the Hong Kong population in general," he said. "Those who have Christian beliefs have a stronger distrust of the Communist Party of China because they are certainly an atheist party, of course. And I would say that Christians, by definition, certainly they accord a higher priority to spiritual things than material things."
"Christians in Hong Kong, they see that economic development has not brought more religious tolerance in China, so despite economic development, despite improvement in living standards and opening to the external world, tolerance of Christianity especially has not been improving, in fact in the recent two years persecution has strengthened," he said.
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