China, Beijing - On a press conference held Saturday at the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel in Beijing, Dr. Luis Palau described the making of his new book and addressed on the issue of religious freedom in China.
Working with the Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and formerly Minister of Information Zhao Qizheng, the Dr. Palau hopes to publish a book titled "A Dialogue Between A Christian and An Atheist" in the coming year. The book records the dialogue between Dr. Palau and Mr. Zhao as they shared their views on faith. The inspiration was sparked during Dr. Palau's last visit to China in May of this year.
When asked by reporters about his views on whether believers are enjoying religious freedom in China, Dr. Palau answered that he believes that people in China are enjoying more religious freedom that what many perceives from the outside. He mentioned that he had been able to express in his sermons freely and that he saw several Christian bookstores that sold Christian literature and Bibles openly in public.
"I want to make every effort to let people know that there is more freedom in China than people have anticipated." Said Dr. Palau.
On several accounts, he felt that some reports of persecution in China were unjustified. He said that he once consulted some Chinese church pastors on a report that pastors were arrested in Beijing. The arrest turned out to be false and report was later retracted.
"The mistake of the Western nations have been that they interpret the persecutions that happens to be a systematic repression of religion from the government, when it could be just the local authorities acting on their own accord or merely unproven rumors." Said Dr. Palau.
He mentioned that one time a young Chinese pastor shocked him when he asked the pastor on the topic of persecution. The Chinese pastor got angry and told him that what they need is not reports on how they are persecuted but more Bibles and Christian literatures and commentaries printed and distributed to the believers.
Given the example of his meeting with Mr. Zhao, Dr. Palau encouraged foreign nations to visit China and promote good international relationship and diffuse misunderstandings.
On the issue whether churches should register with the government, Dr. Palau said he wants to encourage unregistered churches to register and not to lend the situation to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. He felt that Christianity in China should be able to openly express their faith and not be restricted in the dark.
"As a brother who loves China and have shared in similar circumstances of suffering, and hardships, I want to recommend the churches to register with the government and see Christian in China be able to share their faith in the open." Said Dr. Palau at an interview after the press conference referring to his experience in Argentina.
Following his schedule in Beijing, Dr. Palau will be attending a charity conference hosted by the government and domestic charity organizations called "Hand in Hand in Charity; Shoulder to Shoulder to Harmony." He is scheduled to share his charity experience with the audience on Monday. Also he will be preaching at service in the evening on Sunday at Gang Wa Shi Church, the home of Beijing International Christian Fellowship opened to foreign believers residing in Beijing.