Arielle Del Turco
June 4, 2019
Thirty years ago today, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army fired into crowds of its own people—thousands of student-led protestors calling for a more democratic government. This marked a brutal end to the pro-democracy demonstrations that had been going on for weeks in Tiananmen Square.
While estimates suggest that several hundred to thousands of people died that day, an official death toll has never been released.
Fast forward to today and Chinese officials continue to dig their heels in and defend the actions taken by the Communist party which has come to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe cited the government’s actions in this incident as “the reason the stability of the country has been maintained.”
However, denial of past wrongs is the least of China’s problems.
The events at Tiananmen Square merely reflected the willingness of the Chinese Communist Party to put their ideology above the welfare, freedom, and even the lives of its own people. This sentiment has continued to grow within the Chinese government, and it has had tragic consequences for Chinese residents—especially those who wish to choose and live out a faith not approved by the communist regime.
China’s decades-long crackdown on Christians is continuing and it’s only getting worse.
The main targets of China’s campaign against Christianity are those who attend “underground” churches not registered with the government. In 2018, an estimated 100,000 Christians were arrested; most of these arrests were followed by short-term detention.
Last year, the Chinese government started a “thought reform” campaign to promote “Chinese Christianity.” The plan includes “retranslating and annotating” the Bible to find similarities with socialism. This is essentially an attempt to use Christianity as a platform to advance the communist party. Churches and believers who refuse to compromise their faith this way will likely face consequences. Rural underground churches have been forced to close and their members sent to labor camps.
The churches that seek and attain approval from the state don’t fare much better.
A variety of oppressive restrictions are forced upon state-sanctioned churches. Minors are banned from entering churches. The online sales of Bibles are blocked. Even the Catholic Catechism is censored. This April, Chinese authorities prevented several state-sanctioned churches from holding worship services and warned Christians not to participate in Easter celebrations.
While the suppression of Christianity is concerning, Christians aren’t the only victims of the Chinese government’s disapproval.
In China’s Xinjiang province, approximately one million Uyghur Muslims are detained in “re-education” prison camps, where they are subjected to torture and indoctrination by the communist party. Even within the last year, China has continued to add buildings to these camps—presumably with the intention of detaining more Uyghurs.
China is continually using technological advancements to crack down on Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Facial recognition technology—fixed to the entrances of supermarkets, malls, and police checkpoints every few hundred feet—is used to track Uyghurs as they go about their day.
China has also been accused of harvesting organs from its Uyghur population as they try to profit from their brutal human rights abuses.
In light of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, none of these human rights violations and religious freedom concerns should be a surprise. In Tiananmen, the Chinese government made clear that they wouldn’t tolerate any ideas that question the political ideology of the state.
Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are deeply connected—and the Chinese government feels threatened by both.
Just like China’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, today China cracks down on its religious minorities.
The trend of worsening religious freedom violations and increasing attacks on free speech in China tells us this isn’t an issue that’s going to resolve itself.
As we remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre today, we must also remember and pray for those who are continuing to suffer under China’s repressive regime.
June 4, 2019
As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches this week, I recently had reason to remember the heroic sacrifices of three great Americans who fought at the Battle of Midway on this date in 1942—a mere seven months after the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.
This past Saturday, I attended a wedding in the beautiful chapel of the United States Naval Academy. The reception was held nearby at United States Naval Academy Club. As one might imagine, the Naval Academy Club is a historic building, and one of its rooms had paintings and photographs of heroic graduates who fought the Second World War. There were painted portraits of Admirals Nimitz and Spruance. There was a photograph of Admiral Jack Fletcher, the operational commander at the Battles of the Coral Sea and soon afterward at Midway.
However, what struck me most was a beautiful plaque (pictured above) dedicated to three naval aviators, all former midshipman, who were killed in action at the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Each former USNA graduate died serving as the commanding officer of a torpedo bomber squadron while attacking the Japanese fleet. There was one squadron from the Enterprise (Squadron 6 – Eugene E. Lindsey); one from the Yorktown (Squadron 3 – Edward Massey); and one from the Hornet (Squadron 8 – John Charles Waldron). Each was awarded the Navy Cross. Most of the aviators in these squadrons lost their lives attacking the Japanese fleet that day.
As the plaque noted:
The torpedo attacks of Waldron, Lindsey, and Massey had followed hard upon each other by luck. What was not luck, but the soul of the United States in action, was the willingness of the torpedo plane squadrons to go in against hopeless odds. This was the extra ounce of martial weight that in a few decisive minutes tipped the balance of history.
I was so thankful that someone had lovingly and painstakingly taken the time to honor these men in a manner that allowed me to be reminded of the skill, dedication, and bravery it took for this free American to enjoy a perfect June wedding reception on such hallowed ground.
June 3, 2019
The second annual “Freedom March,” featuring men and women who formerly identified as homosexual or formerly identified as transgender, was held in Washington, D.C. on May 25. They celebrated freedom from homosexuality and freedom from gender confusion with a rally and worship time at the Sylvan Theater (an outdoor amphitheater), followed by a march, on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
A highlight of the event was the testimony offered by two survivors of the 2016 shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub called Pulse. (The shooting, in which 49 people were killed, was carried out by Islamist terrorist Omar Mateen; law enforcement authorities concluded there was no evidence he had targeted Pulse because of its gay-identified clientele.) Angel Colon and Luis Javier Ruiz were both at the Pulse nightclub that night (and Colon was wounded), but both have since committed their lives to Christ and renounced a “gay” identity. They have formed a ministry called “Fearless Identity” to bring “hope and understanding to the LGBTQ community and the church through education, biblical clarity, and support in a judgement-free environment for those seeking the option to change.”
One of the M.C.’s for the event was Elizabeth Woning, who also attended FRC’s Watchmen on the Wall conference in the days before the Freedom March. Woning, a former lesbian who is now married to a man, is one of the co-founders of the ministry Equipped to Love. She was also one of the leaders of the Changed movement, which mobilized dozens of ex-gay individuals to lobby, demonstrate, and testify against the extreme legislation (in the end withdrawn by its sponsor) that would have defined it as “consumer fraud” to engage in sexual orientation change efforts (counseling or therapy) for a fee.
I offered my support to the Freedom March by attending and taking photos. In a way, Family Research Council and ministries like those that organized the Freedom March represent two different but equally important facets of the movement to defend sexual morality and educate America on the fact that each of the elements of sexual orientation—attractions, behavior, and self-identification—can change.
FRC’s policy papers document the research showing that change is not only possible but common for people who have experienced some aspect of same-sex sexuality, as well as the fact that counselling or therapy intended to facilitate such change can be effective and is not generally harmful.
On the other hand, the first-person testimonies of people who have actually experienced such change—whether as a result of counseling, a spiritual rebirth, or both—give a vital personal touch and confirmation of the findings of the scientific research. FRC looks forward to a third Freedom March next year in support of the freedom of those with unwanted same-sex attractions to seek change.