Peking wins support from Carey

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The Independent Online
NANKING - The government of China yesterday received unexpected support for its policy towards religious freedom from George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is on a tour of the country, writes Teresa Poole.

The Archbishop said that he did not object to Peking's proposal to create a compulsory register of Churches, a move seen by many analysts as curtailing Church activities rather than enshrining religious rights.

Dr Carey said: 'I personally don't see anything wrong in registration because there can be bad expressions of religion as well as good ones. We already know in Britain the business of some cults which can have very mischievous influence on the lives of young people. In Russia, there's an attempt being made on registration in order to curb certain fundamentalist groups coming from the West.'

But China has a vibrant Church outside the official China Christian Council, and there are well- documented instances of these Churches being harassed. Some of these independent Churches are strongly influenced by foreign evangelical and charismatic movements, whose practices, such as 'speaking in tongues', vary widely and diverge from those in the Church council.

As the guest of Bishop Ding Guangxun the Archbishop visited an orphanage for abandoned babies and a children's mental health clinic, and a lunchtime karaoke session.