The following quotes are from an article posted today on the BPSports.net.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--With increased frequency, the Chinese government is persecuting house churches and banishing foreign Christians from the country, presumably to squelch voices who might draw attention to the plight of religious minorities in the nation surrounding the Beijing Olympics.
"We seem to be seeing a crackdown ahead of the Olympics. Whether that's to send a message to the church to lay low or whether it is to make sure that anybody who might cause international embarrassment is taken care of ahead of time, I don't know," Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, told Baptist Press. "But we do see an increase in the level of arrests, the level of house church services being raided, that sort of activity.
"We also have seen a number of foreigners who are Christians who, when the time came to renew their visa they have been denied a new visa and told that they had to leave the country," Nettleton added. "So it's happening both amongst the house churches of native Chinese people as well as foreign Christians who are living and working in China. They're finding that they're no longer welcome."
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Nettleton said his best guess for the increase in persecution is that the Chinese government views the Beijing Olympics, scheduled for Aug. 8-24, as sort of a coming out party where the eyes of the world will be on them. "The Olympics are a huge event, there will be a huge amount of international attention focused on China," he said. "They want to make sure that they put their best foot forward, and having Christians doing some sort of protest or drawing attention to the religious freedom situation there would not be good PR. It would not make a good impression on the visitors from around the world, so they're going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn't happen."