It’s not every day that you see a topic like Christian persecution covered by the network news. But CBS This Morning deserves credit for being the only network to actually do a thorough report on the troubling topic, Thursday. Foreign correspondent Seth Doane noted the horrific state of China’s “religious freedom,” from thousands of burned crosses to demolished churches and Christians arrested, simply for meeting to pray and worship.
Anchor Charlie Rose led into the segment stating that China “faced accusations this morning of a crackdown on the religious freedom of Christians.” He described a Protestant pastor being sentenced to 14 years in prison and “the fight over the freedom to worship.”
Foreign correspondent Seth Doane then reported from Beijing describing the “burned down crosses from as many as 2,000 churches” and China’s “ongoing battle against religion.” Doane then visited an underground church and spoke to the faithful Christians there.
DOANE: “We have up to 30 regular members of this church,” he told us, “but some of us are in jail, from time to time.”
DOANE: [speaking to Christians] By a show of hands, can you show me how many have been detained for doing this, for gathering and praying?
DOANE: [everyone raises hand] Wow. Everyone has raised their hand. All of you have been detained?
DOANE, [quoting Chinese Christian in attendance]: “There is no justice in this country,” Hong told us, “so we choose to believe in God and place our hope in his hands.”
Doane ended the segment on a hopeful note, highlighting that Christians are estimated to outnumber registered Communists in China, leaving them “a very powerful voice.”
This isn’t the first time CBS reporter Seth Doane has highlighted the plight of China’s Christians. In 2014, Newsbusters highlighted the CBS This Morning report by Doane on China’s Catholic underground church. Again in 2013, we noted when CBS This Morning covered persecuted Chinese Christians.
See the full transcript from March 10th’s CBS This Morning below:
CHARLIE ROSE: China faces accusations this morning of a crackdown on the religious freedom of Christians. One provincial government has systematically removed crosses from churches. A Protestant pastor last month was sentenced to 14 years in prison, he was convicted of financial crimes and also for illegally gathering people to disturb social order. Seth Doane is in Beijing with the fight over the freedom to worship. Good morning.
SETH DOANE: Good morning. The protests can be quickly quieted and the pictures of the cross removal can be quite grainy but two years now we have seen an ongoing battle against religion. [video] Cell phone video released this week shows yet another cross being taken off a steeple. The government in one province has removed, sometimes burned down crosses from as many as 2,000 churches there. Says U.S..-based religious activist group “China Aid.” At times, the Christian faithful have protested what they call illegal demolition, while one of their supporters, lawyer Zhang Kai, was paraded on state TV in February expressing remorse.
DOANE: At the start of the government's campaign, a church was demolished. The official reason? A violation of building codes.
DOANE: China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist. Technically it does allow freedom of religion but those in approved religions must worship under the supervision of those who are faithful first of all to the state. So tens of millions of Christians meet underground in so-called family churches. This one was set up in the tiny Beijing apartment of Shu Yung Hai. He spent two years in prison after writing about church demolitions and the abuse of Christians.
DOANE: We have up to 30 regular members of this church, he told us, but some of us are in jail, from time to time.
DOANE: [speaking to Christians] By a show of hands, can you show me how many have been detained for doing this, for gathering and praying? [everyone raises hand] Wow. Everyone has raised their hand. All of you have been detained?
DOANE: There is no justice in this country, Hong told us, so we choose to believe in God and place our hope in his hands. By some estimates, there are more Christians in China than registered members of the Communist party, which makes theirs a very powerful voice. We reached out to religious affairs authorities for some sort of comment or explanation but did not hear back.
NORAH O’DONNELL: Really fascinating. Seth Doane in Beijing, thank you so much.