If you watched Rachel Maddow last night, you saw Republican honchos Ed Gillespie and Michael Steele bending themselves into pretzels defending Christine O’Donnell’s weird claim that she is “privy” to “classified information.” Greg Sargent has a transcript of exactly what O’Donnell said.
There has been much guffawing at the idea that O’Donnell has a security clearance, but so far I haven’t seen anyone point out that much of what she said about Christianity in China is nonsense. Here’s what she said:
O’DONNELL: There’s much that I want to say. I wish I wasn’t privy to some of the classified information that I am privy to because I think that I —
QUESTIONER: Can I interrupt and say how are you privy to classified information?
O’DONNELL: Because I’ve been working with various non-profit groups for over 15 years. And we’ve been sending missionaries to China for a very long time. And these missionaries go to China, risking their lives because you are not allowed to be a Christian over there.
So a country that forces women to have abortions and mandates that you can only have one child and will not allow you the freedom to read the Bible. You think they can be our friend? We have to look at our history and realize if they pretend to be our friend, they have got something up their sleeve.
First, it is simply not true that Christianity is banned in China. Doesn’t anyone else remember that President Bush attended a Christian church service while in Beijing to watch the Olympics?
And neither is the Bible banned in China. In fact, the Bible is being printed in China.
China bans foreign missionaries of any religion, but of course that doesn’t stop the determined evangelical from going there anyway. In 2008, a number of Christian mission organizations encouraged people traveling to the Beijing Olympics to do a little faith witnessing while they were there.
I doubt there have been any official Christian missions in China for several years. I understand there is very low key, “underground” Christian missionary work going on, however.
In recent years Beijing has been posing as a great friend to religion, which is why President Bush’s visit to a church was a great publicity coup for the Chinese Communist Party. But religions are considered to be something like trade unions in China, and they must be registered with the government and headed by loyal Party members. Non-registered churches are illegal; non-registered religious observances attended by more than 12 people are banned.
There are bureaucracies set up to supervise religions. In the case of Buddhism, the government often dictates what ceremonies can or cannot be performed, how many people can participate, etc. Monks receive salaries from the government, and many of the larger monasteries are more or less run as tourist attractions.
But my impression is that Beijing doesn’t care what religious beliefs people hold as long as they are loyal to China, and only China.
For example, the Catholic church in China is more or less severed from Rome, and bishops are appointed by the Party, not the Pope. And, of course, the Party has taken over the job of recognizing reborn lamas of Tibetan Buddhism.
Any resistance to government authority is absolutely not tolerated. My understanding is that China went ballistic about Falun Gong after Falun Gong members staged large peaceful protests of the way they were being treated in Chinese media. And, of course, Beijing is raving, mouth-foaming insane regarding His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
But the larger point is that Once again, we see little Christine making it up as she goes along. Along with pushing her for the details of her “security clearance,” I’d like to know which “non-profit groups” she’s been “working with” all this time. My bet is they don’t exist.