Part of a fading Bible, painstakingly and secretly hand-copied by a group of Christians sentenced to a labor camp in China, will be on display at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, the institute announced.
A manuscript of the Book of Revelations was given on Nov. 2 to former president George W. Bush by ChinaAid Association, a Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization that monitors the state of religious freedom in China, especially the condition of banned churches run secretly in private homes.
The Chinese Bible was assembled more than a decade ago by a group of nearly 20 Christians who were sent to a labor camp in northwest China after being arrested at an early morning prayer service, ChinaAid president and founder Xiqiu “Bob” Fu said in a statement.
One of the inmates managed to smuggle a Bible inside and the prisoners began to copy it by hand. “These hand-copied Bibles were used ... for more than a year, sustaining the faith of these prisoners who read them ... in the dark of night,” Fu said. “On the eve of the prisoners’ release, the text was smuggled out of the labor camp to prevent it from being confiscated.”
The manuscript will be displayed as part of the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection, a repository of video histories and documents from “hallmark freedom movements.”
The gift comes at the same time as a delegation led by the China Christian Council (CCC) is touring the U.S. with an exhibition on how the Bible came to China. The exhibit, titled “Thy Word is the Truth,” has visited Washington, D.C.; Chicago and Dallas and will be in Charlotte, North Carolina from Nov. 8-18.
While the CCC says Christians are not persecuted in China, ChinaAid has called the exhibition propaganda “to convince the American people that freedom of religion exists in China.”
According to Fu’s testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released by ChinaAid on Nov. 3, freedom of religion and rule of law in China reached the lowest level in the first 10 months of 2011 since 1982.
“While the government tolerates the practice of religion within officially controlled organizations and has permitted some discussion about allowing ‘faith-based’ charity work ... (it) controls and represses any religion that does not ‘adapt’ its practices to socialism, has extensive foreign ties, or is viewed as a potential threat to the ruling Communist Party,” Fu said.
This includes “house church” Protestants, unregistered Catholics, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims, and groups such as Falun Gong. ChinaAid said this year more than 15,000 members of nearly 30 house churches and nearly 100 lawyers, rights activists and dissidents have been harassed, arrested or sentenced to prison.