Hong Kong police, which battled millions of people who protested against an extradition bill recently, has been accused of offending Christians. A priest has accused a police official of making an offensive remark. He claimed that the official spotted him and his fellow priests wearing clerical clothing at the protests on June 12 and said, “Ask your Jesus to come down and see us.”
A Hong Kong citizen has moved court against the official, calling his remark blasphemous and discriminatory against his faith and has demanded an apology from the police chief. “Following the revelation in the news, it has left all followers, including myself, feeling offended and uncomfortable,” he said.
The accused official, if he did make the offensive remark, might have a good reason to believe that he was up against not only millions of Hong Kong residents but Jesus Christ himself. The Hong Kong protests were driven by Christians (who are nearly 10 per cent of the population) carrying Bibles and singing hymns. Churches openly supported protests and provided food and shelter to protesters. A hymn ‘Sing Hallelujah to the Lord’ became an unofficial anthem of the protests as groups of Christian protesters were seen singing it at various sites.
“This was the one people picked up, as it is easy for people to follow, with a simple message and easy melody,” Edwin Chow, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, told Reuters.
The police got so scared of religious sentiment providing an aura of peace and legitimacy to the protests that a protester was spotted carrying a placard which read: “Stop Using Baton or We Sing Hallelujah to the Lord.”
BEST #extradition protest poster: "Stop Using Baton Or We Sing Hallelujah To The Lord"
— SJ (@SijiaJ) June 16, 2019
One reason cited behind singing of Christian hymns during protests is that it made a protest a religious assembly which cannot be termed illegal by police. Some believed protesters were trying to shame Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who was pushing the extradition bill, as she is a Christian herself.
However, it is likely that Christians dread the proposed extradition law more than others, and that’s why they mobilised more aggressively. Many even see the Hong Kong protests against the Chinese government as a war between communism and Christianity. In 2017, pro-democracy Christian leader Derek Lam wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times titled ‘I Won’t Make Jesus Bow Down to Xi Jinping’. Xi is the President of China whose government has been accused of suppressing the Christian community by demolishing churches, removing crosses, arresting priests and forcing churches to sing songs in praise of the communist regime.
Many pro-democracy ‘Umbrella Movement’ leaders, who were arrested after protests against Chinese interference in the city’s electoral system in 2014, are Christians. One of them, Joshua Wong, released from prison a few days ago, had become the face of 2014 protests when he was just 17 years old.
In April this year, nine leading activists of the 2014 Umbrella Movement were convicted of public nuisance. One of them was Baptist pastor Chu Yiu-ming who made a moving speech from the dock in the court. “Today, old and gray, I find myself in the defendants’ dock, making a final plea as a convict. It looks so absurd,” he said. “Yet my heart tells me that I have found the most honorable pulpit of my ministerial career.”
He ended his long speech, in which he recounted his life and various struggles, thus: “I, Chu Yiu Ming, Tai Yiu Ting and Chan Kin Man, from the defendant’s dock, now wish to declare we have no regret… we hold no grudges… no anger… no grievances. We do not give up. In the words of Jesus, “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; The Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”