A group of American Christians is refusing to leave an airport in China after China officials confiscated more than 300 Bibles from their luggage. Pat Klein, the leader of the Christian group, said they will not leave an airport in the southwestern city of Kunming until they get their Bibles back.
“I heard that there’s freedom of religion in China, so why is there a problem for us to bring Bibles?” said Klein, whose Sheridan, Wyoming-based group distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world.
The move comes as China hosts the Olympics in Beijing, where false media reports last year claimed Bibles would be banned from the games. The state-run China Daily reported last month that 10,000 bilingual copies of the Bible would be distributed in the Olympic Village, which houses athletes and media.
In China, Bibles are legally printed at just one plant — the world’s largest — run by a communist government-backed Christian association, and are available in many bookstores. However, the officially atheistic government prohibits proselytizing and is worried that if the spread of religion goes unchecked, believers might ultimately challenge the Communist Party’s authority.
What do the Chinese officials have to say about this?
An officer on duty at Kunming airport’s customs office who would only go by the name of Xiao, denied confiscating the Bibles but rather said authorities were just “taking care” of them and provided no further details.
On Monday morning, Klein said Chinese officials had shown the group what they said were regulations that banned bringing Bibles into China, but that the documents were in Chinese. Klein said the customs officers had told him that they could each have one Bible for personal use, but no more than that. He said the officers were insisting that they leave the airport.
“We don’t want to go without taking those books. It cost us a lot of money to bring them here,” Klein said. “They’re saying that it’s illegal to bring the Bibles in and that if we wanted to, we had to apply ahead of time for permission.”
This very likely happens quite often. However with the Olympics currently taking place in Beijing, more news of human rights violations seem to be hitting American news sources.
UPDATE: The Christian Post reports that Chinese officials returned the Bibles they originally confiscated.