Even though only a small percentage Hong Kong’s citizens profess to be Christian, numerous online videos have captured crowds singing “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” on the streets in recent months among protests against a bill that some fear would extradite residents to Communist China. The protests — and singing — have continued as the calls have broadened into a wider demand for democracy in the region.
Concerns have also been raised over how the move might affect Christians. Believers currently have freedom under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, but if China encroaches upon the territory, those liberties could be eroded. Christians in China are increasingly persecuted and oppressed, and do not have religious freedom.
“We fear that Christians in Hong Kong will suffer the same fate as Christians in mainland China,” one pastor stated, according to First Things, “with our churches being burnt down, our leaders having to be approved, and our Bible being changed to suit Communist propaganda.”
According to reports, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” first emerged as the common anthem in June after a group of Christian students began singing praise songs at the main protest site, and the simple worship refrain began to catch on. Reuters outlines that the students sang the songs to protect the protesters, as “religious gatherings can be held without a permit in the financial hub.”
Christians have backed the mass protests, which oppose the proposed “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters” bill. Large crowds have taken to the streets out of concern that those deemed criminals could be sent to Mainland China for trial.
On June 16, an estimated two million people filled the streets to urge the government to formally withdraw the legislation, although Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the day prior that she would “suspend” the proposal — apparently as a means to quiet the uproar.
Peaceful gatherings have continued on the street, which have broadened into calls for democracy in the region. On Aug. 23, a number of Christians took to the streets to stand against the Hong Kong government and Communism. Wearing shirts that read “God bless Hong Kong,” they again sang the popular anthem “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” and held hands in a chain that was stated to stretch for miles after those who are not Christian joined in the effort.
According to online statistics, about 43 percent of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million citizens identify as “religious,” with most of those following Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. An estimated 11 percent of residents are Christian.
However, even with the low percentage, there are still approximately 480,000 evangelical believers in Hong Kong, and many of those are active in providing important services to the community.
“Christian churches run a large number of educational institutions, ranging from nurseries to post-secondary institutions. Moreover, they provide 13 hospitals, a large number of clinics, family centers and old-age homes throughout Hong Kong,” the site InterNations outlines.
A new report from Reuters states that China has forbidden Lam from cancelling the bill and from giving into the demands of protesters, who would like to see the bill withdrawn completely and all criminal charges dropped.
Hong Kong is not a separate country from China, but is rather considered a “Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.” It has its own government and economic system. The term “one country, two systems” is often utilized when speaking of the relationship between China and Hong Kong.