News: Hong Kong Christians Lead Protests for Democracy


By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

As the island city braces for another week of gridlock, faith is in the foreground.

Chinese Christians are playing a leading role in protests that have seen tens of thousands of people shut down the streets of Hong Kong.

Protestors are angered by Beijing’s decision to control the list of candidates for the island city’s top leader in its first free election, slated for 2017.

Some of the top leaders of the protests are Christians, including the teenage leader of the main student group and two of the three Occupy Central leaders. Cardinal Joseph Zen, 82, said he will spend his nights with the protestors until “we are either dispersed or arrested.”

Churches are also playing a role, supporting the protests with food and shelter. Though several of Hong Kong’s major churches have publicly taken a neutral stance, others are providing first aid, snacks, or refuge to protestors. Christian symbols are highly visible, as demonstrators form prayer groups, carry crosses, and openly read their Bibles.

While the Hong Kong protestors are demanding democracy, “there is an undercurrent of another, much older tension: between Christianity and Communist China,” noted the Wall Street Journal. (Former Hong Kong resident Dorcas Cheng-Tozun explains that tension to CT readers over at Her.meneutics.)

Christian churches have been sprouting in Hong Kong since the British took control in 1841. About 43 percent of the island’s 7.2 million people claim a religion—about 320,000 of them are Protestant Christians.

“Christians in Hong Kong, they see that economic development has not brought more religious tolerance in China,” Joseph Cheng, a political-science professor at City University of Hong Kong, told UCA News. “So despite economic development, despite …

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