NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Two of the nation's largest Protestant churches have denounced the House vote for permanent, normalized trade status with China.
The Rev. Richard Land, a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the bill would give the communist regime ''a free hand to continue and increase its pattern of persecution of Christians and other people of faith.''
The Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett of the United Methodist Church also opposes permanent trade status, along with 18 of the denomination's bishops.
''The world cannot have one standard of human rights for apartheid South Africa and another for an authoritarian Chinese state merely because China is a bigger trading partner or a larger military threat,'' Fassett said at a Washington rally.
Baptist Press reported that Land, president of the denomination's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was dismayed that the House rejected advice from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, recently established by Congress.
The panel's first report, on May 1, said China's performance on religious rights had worsened this past year and that it should not get permanent trade status until its record improved.
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