The workings of international governments may seem distant to American homeschoolers, but thinking globally will help you and your children protect the freedoms we enjoy in our country. Today on Home School Heartbeat, Mike Smith is joined by Michael Farris, who shares his insights on religious freedom in China.
This week we’re talking with Mike Farris, Chairman and General Counsel of Home School Legal Defense Association. At the end of July, Mike traveled to China with a small delegation to get a glimpse into the legal and economic climate of one of the world’s largest and most influential countries. Thanks for joining us, Mike.
Glad to be with you, Mike.
Mike, your visit included a meeting with China’s deputy director-general for religious affairs. What did you learn about the state of China’s laws relative to religious freedom?
China practices religious toleration, if you use a classical definition of that term. In 1688, William and Mary passed a law through the Parliament of Britain called the Religious Toleration Act that allowed people to practice faith different than the Anglican Church, as long as you didn’t differ too much and as long as you were licensed by the government to preach and to hold a worship service. That’s essentially the case in China. You can get a license to have a church; you can get a license to be a pastor, but there are strict and wide-ranging controls on those opportunities, and that creates a lot of conflict. They claim that no one’s in jail in China for their faith, which is probably true in a technical sense—it’s not their actual beliefs, but their actions. So meeting in an underground church, meeting in a way that’s not sanctioned by the Chinese government, will land you in big trouble, despite their claims on religious freedom.
Thanks, Mike, for sharing that eye-opening insight. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.