During the 2008 Summer Olympics, I wrote about the ethical concerns with Beijing hosting the games. Just as I did then, I have mixed feelings about these Olympics. Certainly I enjoy watching the athletes, and celebrating the cooperation between the nations that’s demonstrated. But are a number of the countries represented doing unethical things? Yes. (Including, by the way, the USA, since we are the leading proponents of child-killing in the world, funding abortions not only in our own country and in many others.)
Should a country such as China, which violates human rights in dramatic ways, including but not limited to the horrific genocide of the Uighur people) be rewarded by the global community by being given the Olympics? No.
Ethically speaking, having China host the games sends the message “human rights aren’t that big a deal—you can persecute people, imprison them for religious and political reasons, but we’ll still honor you by making you host of the Olympics.” It also sends a “we’ll look the other way” message.
Again, in all fairness, prolife Christians should be just as disturbed by the U.S. government’s funding the slaughter of the unborn. Should we boycott the Olympics in China while celebrating the Olympics when it’s in the U.S.? Again, this is a decision of conscience individual believers have to make—there is no absolute revealed answer. In my case, I believe the Olympics do not serve to promote hostility and racism and genocide or global abortion. I think for the most part, they are a secular and of course imperfect attempt to help people see those in other countries around the world as fellow human beings who have dignity and are worthy of respect. So in my thinking the Olympics itself, regardless of its location, has more good to it than it does bad.
If you would boycott the Olympics when it’s in China, due to their human rights violations, should you also boycott all goods and services from China? Using the same logic, would you boycott the Olympics when in America, due to our human rights violations against our smallest and most helpless children? Will you also boycott all goods and services made in America? (How’s that going to work for you?)
However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t express our moral concerns. I am personally thankful that all the attention is bringing these human rights issues to the forefront, and again putting China under world scrutiny.
Also on the positive side, the Olympics are and will certainly result in the gospel being brought into China, because every Christian athlete, coach, trainer, and support personnel can bring in a gospel witness and perhaps many will bring in Chinese gospel literature. Ultimately, I believe our sovereign God of providence will bring good out of this. Also, with China being the focus of world attention, there will be more prayer for Chinese believers, and God will answer.
I’ve often been asked if there is still persecution of Christians in China. The answer is yes. Still, many American Christians, including some Christian leaders, have been led to believe persecution is a relic of the past and that the picture painted in Safely Home no longer pertains. (I truly wish it didn’t!) Bob Fu, a Chinese national, now labors in the U.S. to call attention to millions of persecuted countrymen. I encourage readers to examine Fu’s website and listen to these stories: www.chinaaid.org. In his article With All Eyes on the Olympics, China Threatens House Churches, Bob shares about the 60 members of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church, nicknamed the “Mayflower church,” who fled to South Korea but have been denied their request for asylum. He calls upon the U.S. to help this group of persecuted Christians.
Voice of the Martyrs shares these five ways you can pray for Chinese Christians during the Olympic Games:
- Pray for Chinese pastors and church leaders to continue to stand firmly for biblical truth in spite of government pressure to compromise.
- Pray for the encouragement of Chinese believers and that they will experience unity and fellowship as members of the body of Christ.
- Pray for Christians in prison. Pray for God’s protection over them, for their health and nutrition, and that they will have opportunities to witness for Christ to guards and fellow prisoners.
- Pray for the spread of the gospel among participants in the games and among local, provincial, and national Communist Party Leaders.
- Pray for the safe distribution of Bibles in every part of China.