A leading American Christian evangelist who joined US President George W. Bush at a church service in Beijing yesterday morning told China Daily the previous day that he thought Chinese people enjoy more religious freedom than people overseas imagine.
"It is growing all over China," said Luis Palau, who completes his one-week trip to China today. "I myself have total freedom to speak at every church and every gathering in China. Nobody told me what to say and what not to say."
Palau, 71, said people who practice Christianity within the law "enjoy great opportunities to worship openly to sing and to teach the Bible."
Bookstores in China openly sell the Bible and other Christian books, he said, adding "this is very exciting for me."
Beijing has two new churches, the Shanghai municipal government has rebuilt a theatre into a house of worship and in Nanjing a theological seminary is being built, which will be the biggest of its kind in China, said Palau.
He urged unregistered churches in China to register with the government. "I encourage them to be registered to have more freedom and opportunities to enjoy the protection and blessing of the government."
Palau has evangelized to an estimated 20 million people in 70 nations. His radio broadcasts in English and Spanish are heard by millions more on over 2,100 radio stations in 48 countries.
On September 16, Palau was invited by the White House to give a special prayer at Washington National Cathedral as part of ceremonies for the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2004, he led a delegation of US business leaders, athletes and musicians to China focusing on US and Chinese adoption procedures and communication between their business communities.
(China Daily November 21, 2005)