Okay, I received an email from a friend telling me their former pastor (as in, they no longer go to his church) was protesting in China, during the Olympics, in favor of religious freedom. When I first heard, I was like, “wow, that’s pretty brave – China is a scary place regarding religious freedom!” Then, since my curiosity was peeked, I did a google search.
The following are excerpts from the CBS Denver affiliated site, as written by the Associated Press, and can be found here.
An American pastor checked into upscale hotels in the Olympics host city this week, filmed himself painting two of his rooms with slogans like “Beijing 2008 Our world Our nightmare” and then disappeared. Without paying. Eddie Romero’s unusual protest, now making the rounds on YouTube, shows foreigners can still sneak through the tight security measures China imposed to keep potential troublemakers away from the games. Romero’s friends said the preacher was in hiding, but planned to surrender to Chinese authorities as soon as the Olympics end Aug. 24. They said he began thinking about his elaborate, one-man protest of China’s human-rights abuses when Beijing was selected as the host for the 2008 Olympics seven years ago.
On Tuesday, in a sometimes unsteady hand — he had to teach himself how to paint — the California-based pastor splashed the walls of his two hotel rooms with demands for the release of five Chinese activists. He slashed pillows and staged mock killings with stuffed people propped on the bed, red paint spattered like blood on the headboard.
Romero, who appears to be alone, tells the camera he doesn’t want to disrupt the games. He talks about religious freedom for groups that remain highly sensitive with the Chinese government — Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, the Falun Gong spiritual movement. The protest is heartfelt, said Bob Fu, leader of the Texas-based China Aid Association who is among a group of Romero supporters monitoring the protest from California. “This is not like middle-age crisis, craziness,” Fu said. “He’s very genuine, a caring, loving pastor. And very creative.” Another friend, British-based pastor Tony Thomas, said Romero had no special connection to China, but he had a vision for the project in 2001 after watching Beijing win the right to host the games. Thomas said Romero hatched the protest plan — which he eventually named “The Gadfly Project” — after consulting with a few close friends at his Hacienda Christian Fellowship church and talking with American activists who campaign for Chinese rights.
Okay, I am ALL FOR freedom of speech, human rights, freedom of religion, and would be the first to admit China has some things they could learn. I am not alone. And I praise the strength and bravery for people who stand in the face of oppression such as those that exist in China – and other countries – today. I applaud them. Protests have their place, can be affective……..
But VANDALISM? Destruction of hotel rooms, without paying? Getting the message on YouTube, where I imagine the majority of those in China would not even SEE it, let alone be able to do something about it? And, as a Christian Pastor, who admittedly does not appear to be trying to spread his faith, I think it further damages international views of Americans AND Christians! I think protests should be brave and RESPECTFUL – think of that student that stood in front of the tank……..his message still pops up today! But DISRESPECTING things……hmmmmm, not so sure…..
Am I off here? I would love to hear your opinions because, admittedly, I am reacting here……