Saturday, March 10, 2007

Chinese adviser wants hotel Bibles for Games

BEIJING - Bibles should be put in hotel rooms during the 2008 Beijing Olympics to clear up foreigners' misconceptions about religion in China, Chinese media quoted a political adviser as saying.

"A large number of foreign athletes and tourists will swarm into Beijing for the Games, a majority of whom have religious belief, and providing Bibles at hotels will meet their religious needs," Liu Banyan, vice-president of the China Patriotic Catholic Association, told Xingu news agency.

"The Bible is a must at hotel rooms in foreign countries, especially European countries," Liu was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.

"The service can help clear up foreigners' misunderstandings of China in the area of religion," the agency quoted Liu as saying.

The Xingu report did not mention other religions.

The U.S. State Department's 2006 report on international religious freedom said China had failed to live up to promises to respect citizens' faith and persecutes Christians, Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists who refuse to accept official controls.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at the time the report "was a continuation of groundless accusations of China's policies on religion and ethnic minorities".

China's officially atheist Communist leaders say its citizens are free to practise religion in places and ways approved by the state.

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