If one goes to Tiananmen Square in China’s capital city, in the southern part of the square near the tomb of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic, you will find The Monument to People’s Heroes. On the base of the tablet you will find the names of 8 historic rebellions against injustice that deeply impacted Chinese society, along with an inscription written by Mao Zedong and Zhou En-Lai that says:
Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people’s war of liberation and the people’s revolution in the past three years!
Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who laid down their lives in the people’s war of liberation and the people’s revolution in the past thirty years!
Eternal glory to the heroes of the people who from 1840 laid down their lives in the many struggles against domestic and foreign enemies and for national independence and the freedom and well-being of the people!
What few Americans know is that among the heroes upon whom this monument extolls eternal glory are a group of Christians who stood up for the rights of peasants against the horrific brutality of feudalism.
In 1851 members of the God Worshipping Society, a Christian organization led by Hong Xiuquan felt they had no choice but to defend themselves. A famine had broken out and the peasants of Guangxi were starving. The God Worshipping Society had built itself by feeding the hungry, caring for those in need, and promoting the message of compassion and kindness found in the New Testament of the Bible. After government troops had been sent to Guangxi to surround Hong Xiuquan’s home, the Christians felt they had no choice but to fight back. A rebellion broke out, and on January 11th, Hong Xiuquan proclaimed that the Qing Dynasty needed to be toppled and replaced by a government that would serve the needs of the people. Amid starvation, government repression and all the horrors of underdevelopment imposed on China by foreign domination, Hong Xiuquan declared the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom as a new revolutionary government to fight for the common people of China against the corrupt gentry and aristocracy. This insurrection lasted 14 years and shook all of China.
To those who are familiar with the history of China, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party have erected a monument in honor of a group of Christians. Many of the Americans who visited Mao Zedong’s Eighth Route Army during the 1930s such as Agnes Smedley, Edgar Snow and Anna Louise Strong observed that it seemed very close to early Christianity. The Communists left their old lives and possessions behind, held all things in common, and lived lives of total devotion to serving the people and building a new China.
The mystical religious fervor the Chinese Communist Party unleashed among people terrified the US intelligence apparatus in the 1950s and 60s. The term “Brainwashing” entered public discourse, films like “The Manchurian Candidate” and the covert CIA project MKULTRA all flowed from the utter shock and disbelief the US government had at the amazing loyalty and fanaticism that the Chinese Communist Party was able to summon among the population.
Even today in China more people attend church each Sunday morning than in the United States. Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have significantly improved in the last few years. The Three Self Patriotic Movement and the China Church Council have existed for decades as religious organizations working hand in hand with the Communist Party. The Chinese government has repudiated and apologized for the persecution of Christians that went on during the Cultural Revolution and huge strides have been made to correct these mistakes, and Christianity is very well alive in China.
However, to Americans the idea that the Chinese Communists have a monument to a group of Christians who laid down their lives to fight for justice is very shocking. Because of people like Patrick J. Mahoney and his Christian Defense Coalition, as well as other anti-China extremists speaking in the name of Jesus, the entire reality has been obscured. Now as the Winter Olympics in Beijing are approaching, these forces have reached a shrill volume in their hatred and deceptions.
Patrick J. Mahoney is a pretty obscure figure in the United States. He’s got just over 20K twitter followers, and his “Christian Defense Coalition” doesn’t even have a functioning updated website. However, Patrick J. Mahoney has been the lead pastor of something called “Church on the Hill” which is in direct contact with elected officials.
“Church on the Hill” describes itself as “a non-denominational Christian ministry and faith-based prayer outreach committed to meeting both the professional and spiritual needs of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area congressional members (and their staff). As a para-church Corporation, we assist the local church with building spiritual leaders.”
As a religious organization receiving 501c3 tax status, “Church on the Hill” is supposed to stay out of politics and function within its mission statement. However, Patrick J. Mahoney is anything but apolitical. If one looks at his social media he seems to have two obsessions, outlawing abortion by overturning the Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision, and undermining the People’s Republic of China.
Mahoney’s participation in anti-abortion demonstrations is something he is very proud of. All across social media he is seen lobbying elected officials, participating in demonstrations and working to undermine something that the US public overwhelmingly supports by a large majority, protecting a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.
It would certainly be within Mahoney’s right as religious leader to state his own moral or spiritual objection to abortion, but he goes far beyond that. As a defacto-lobbyist, he is using his position as “Church on the Hill” to engage in activism.
Mahoney was arrested during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and faced serious charges for his efforts to sew unrest in China. He has been banned from returning to the country. However, he is mobilizing his allies to do everything they can to hurt China at a time when it is hosting an international sporting event intended to bring the world together.
His followers have been putting pressure on NBC, demanding they not broadcast a very important international sporting event, simply because the host is a government he disapproves of.
Where was Patrick J. Mahoney in 2016 when the Olympics were held in Brazil? He was not seen protesting for the rights of the indigenous people of Brazil who have faced brutal persecution. During the Rio games he was not protesting the fact that the US government had just meddled in Brazil’s politics to remove President Dilma Roussef and replace her with a highly unpopular figure named Michel Temer who was an advocate of Neoliberal economics. He did not protest Brazil’s problematic environmental record.
When the Olympic Games of 2020 were set to take place in Japan, though postponed due to the pandemic, Mahoney did not protest against the horrific treatment that the peoples of Okinawa have suffered. He did not protest the fact that Japanese leaders have often been caught attempting to whitewash the history of their brutal crimes committed during the Second World War.
Mahoney is not really concerned about human rights or social justice, he is simply an anti-China activist. Like Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, he serves a partisan agenda and his activism is tied to individuals with an economic interest in stopping China’s rise.
Mahoney repeats widely debunked allegations about Uyghurs, Tibet, and anything else he can drum up. Mahoney is not moved by one particular cause, but simply hatred for one particular country. Chinese officials have admitted that there are indeed human rights concerns and they would like to improve the situation in the country. However, Mahoney is not interested in dialogue with China about how to move ahead on this issue. Instead he seeks to isolate the United States from China and polarize the world economy.
Patrick Mahoney should read the Bible he so frequently quotes. In 1 John 3:16-18 the Bible states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
No country in the world has lifted more people out of poverty than China. Over 800 million people have been raised out of poverty in China, and countless millions more have had their lives improved by the infrastructure and development projects of the Belt and Road Initiative. If Mahoney is truly a follower of Jesus, he should be studying the methods China has used to help the downtrodden and hungry people of the world and apply them to the United States.
In Matthew 26:52, Christ said to his followers ““Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” If Mahoney were truly in line with the Christian teaching he would be urging US officials to stop sending weapons to the pacific and escalating tensions with China. He would be pushing for understanding between the Chinese and American peoples.
Opposing international tensions, bringing different peoples and nations together, and learning to love one’s enemies is central to the Christian belief system: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” (Romans 12:17-21)
As Patrick Mahoney lobbies elected officials to be more hostile to China with his “Church on the Hill” and mobilizes to undermine an international event intended to bring the world together, his actions should be roundly condemned. His work is not benefiting the United States or the people of the world. Spreading division and escalating international tensions helps no one, especially in difficult times like these.