June 18, 2019
It’s a startling visual -- with an even more surprising soundtrack. In downtown Hong Kong, a mass of humanity – experts said upwards of two million people over the weekend – still pack the streets. It’s the latest sign that the protests against China’s extradition law are in no way dying down. If anything, they’re only growing – and adding a spiritual component at that.
The strains of “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” started with a group of Catholic students. Soon, the huge crowds started joining in, turning one of the territory’s largest demonstrations into an impromptu worship time. “This was the one people picked up, as it is easy for people to follow, with a simple message and easy melody,” said 19-year-old Edwin Chow. “It also shows that it is a peaceful protest.”
For the past week, the hymn has been heard almost non-stop at the main protest site, reporters say, in front of the city’s legislature and at marches and even at tense stand-offs with the police. As the familiar lyrics echo through the streets, a lot of Christians can’t help but think: it’s a poignant reminder of what’s at stake.
Most of the attention is on the proposed law, which would give communist officials an excuse to pick up anyone from Hong Kong and detain them in mainland China -- where the legal system is a joke. But the actual threat is much darker, Christians warn. As far as John Stonestreet and Roberta Rivera are concerned, this is about “preserving the freedoms that were promised when Britain returned control over Hong Kong to China in 1997… According to the agreement,” the duo points out, “Hong Kong’s domestic affairs would be governed by systems it inherited from Britain, which included freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and eventually, free elections.”
Twenty years into the arrangement, China has had second thoughts. Because of its liberties, “Hong Kong became freer and more prosperous than the rest of China. This made the rest of China look bad,” Stonestreet and Rivera explain. They’re ready to crack down on the territory – and this new law would be the perfect foothold.
“Christians in Hong Kong aren’t buying the government’s spin. They realize that subverting Hong Kong’s autonomy is yet another way for Communist officials to suppress Christianity and its influence. They realize that, as the Times points out, laws like these are intended to “extend China’s reach into Hong Kong and strip its residents of the protection of the law.”
“And we can be certain, the first protections to be stripped will be those of Hong Kong’s Christians.”
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.