Source: The New York Times
HONG KONG — Since I was 16 years old, I have wanted to be a pastor. I was raised in a Christian family in Hong Kong that urged me to live by biblical principles. I was taught to love my neighbor as myself and that all human beings are created in the image of God.
Those teachings about love and equality are what inspired me to study theology at Chinese University of Hong Kong. They have also informed my democratic activism for the past six years — and it is for that reason that I am likely to be jailed next month and that I will be barred from ever becoming a pastor.
My personal plight is inconsequential, but it aptly illustrates how the freedoms granted under “One Country, Two Systems” are being dismantled by the Chinese Communist Party. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, Beijing is encroaching not only on Hong Kong’s political freedoms but also on the most personal ones, such as religious beliefs, as part of a larger strategy to shut down any kind of organizing outside of the party.
According to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, we have myriad freedoms. Article 27 grants city residents “freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.” Article 32 grants us “freedom of conscience” and “freedom of religious belief and freedom to preach and to conduct and participate in religious activities in public.”