ATLANTA – The Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Church of China opened at its second stop in Atlanta on Friday, drawing hundreds of people including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who was among the speakers at the opening ceremony.
Following its showcase at the famed Crystal Cathedral in Greater Los Angeles, the exhibit reopened at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church and will be opened to the public from May 19-24.
"We do have a ways to go in China and other countries," said Carter. "There is too much intolerance. There is too much effort to dominate one another. There is too much … trying to define relationship between a person and God or someone else. These things are a reflection all over the world and not just confined to Christianity. My hope, belief is based on what Christ said – ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.’"
The former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner further commented on his understanding of both registered and unregistered churches in China.
Ye Xiaowen, director-general of State Administration for Religious Affairs in China, spoke to the crowd following Carter’s speech.
"As early as twenty-seven years ago, Mr. Deng Xiaoping had told Mr. Carter that, I quote, ‘In China, freedom of worship, OK; Bible, OK; foreign missionary, NO,’" stated Ye, referring to Carter’s past meeting with the then-de facto ruler of the People's Republic of China.
"What Mr. Deng mentioned are the two principles guiding religious affairs in China – to protect the freedom of religious belief and to maintain the independence and self-governance of churches in China," he explained.
"China and America are far apart in distance and different in historical background, cultural traditions and level of development," the director-general further advised. "Therefore, the two nations need to enhance communication and seek common ground amid their difference."
Among other people that spoke at the opening ceremony for the exhibit were Dr. Daniel Vestal of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Rev. Dr. Cao Shengjie, president of China Christian Council.