Monday, November 14, 2005

Bush to Worship in China

GW Bush has asked the Chinese government for an opportunity to attend worship services during his upcoming trip. Here's how Imagethief (an American in Beijing) describes what this means:

Of course, there are officially sanctioned churches here, and I suppose something could be arranged, but I rather imagine that the Chinese government will look upon this rather like the US government might look upon a request from the Chinese to hold a pro-North Korea rally on the Mall. Or to serve the White House dogs, Barney and Ms. Beazley, at the state dinner when Hu Jintao goes to the US. At the very least there would be distaste and offense.

Just as cultural conservatives complain that the secular media/movie establishment can be insensitive to their values by downplaying religious expression, they must understand that not everyone looks at public religious displays as innocuous. What's more, moral decay is not a prerequisite to holding that view. Religious or secular reformers in China may actually be harmed by being seen getting explicit support from a US president.

There's nothing morally wrong about a head of state asking to worship in public on a visit to an officially atheist nation, but the administration should realize the extent to which this will impede dialogue on goals like furthering human rights and reasonable trade policies. I just don't think the statement is worth it--unless the intended audience is domestic.

Hat tip to Simon World.


At 6:01 PM, Blogger Lanky_Bastard said...

Let's not rush to judgement on any assumptions that the intended audience isn't domestic.

Bush is unpopular now, and while a very few Americans will criticize him for worshiping in China, it none-the-less garners him some easy moral extra-credit.


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