Hong Kong Churches Pray, Join Massive Rally for Full Democracy

HONG KONG – The leading Christian Churches in Hong Kong were united in prayers over the weekend as they joined hundred of thousands of citizens to rally for full democracy.

An estimated 250,000 people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding the Chinese government for the full democracy that was promised when Britain handed over the former colony in 1997 and for the right to choose their leaders.

Prior to the rally, leaders and congregations of eight major Protestant and Catholic Churches and organizations gathered at 2:15 p.m. at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park in the downtown area. With worship praises and prayers, Christians in Hong Kong called for blessings and spiritual strength to be given to the city amid the social and political tension raised from the rally.

The Rev. Ralph Lee, president of the Methodist Church of Hong Kong and the representative of all Protestant Churches participating in the initiative, along with the representative of their Roman Catholic counterparts, the Catholic Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of the Diocese of Hong Kong, delivered keynote messages and led a prayer meeting to kick off the rally.

After the prayer meeting, the several hundred Christian demonstrators joined the other massive crowds, marching to the Hong Kong S.A.R. government headquarters downtown with a banner in Chinese characters, reading "Act in Kindness, Seek for Righteousness, Walk with the Lord to Democracy."

When asked about the relationship between churches and politics, Lee replied that with the Christian Church’s teachings of righteousness and equality, churches should take part in social affairs to demonstrate their relevance with the rest of the society.

After the 1997 handover of sovereignty of Hong Kong by Great Britain to China, Hong Kong uniquely remains as a semi-autonomous region of China under the "one country, two systems" mapped out in the Basic Law constitution.

Unlike China, where religious activities and media are very restricted by the law, Hong Kong citizens enjoy religious freedom and freedom of expressions just as the days of British colonization.

The massive demonstration Sunday was triggered by the government’s controversial proposal to expand a committee of Beijing-backed elites that chooses Hong Kong’s chief executive. Many fear that the proposal threatens the full democracy as promised after 1997, putting Hong Kong under the regime of Chinese Communism.

Demonstrators demanded for a universal suffrage to be implemented in Hong Kong.

Chris Chan contributed reporting from Hong Kong for this article.