The Ad­ven­tist Church un­der Au­thor­i­tar­ian Gov­ern­ments

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Ad­ven­tist be­liev­ers around the world have suf­fered much from au­thor­i­tar­ian and dic­ta­to­rial regime, es­pe­cially dur­ing times of war. Dur­ing 1939 in Europe’s Ro­ma­nia, “Nazi led au­thor­i­tar­ian regime led to close 90 per­cent of the Ad­ven­tist

churches in Ro­ma­nia. And over 3,000 Ro­ma­nian Ad­ven­tists were jailed and some were sen­tenced for twenty-five-years.”195

At the same time in Asia, as “the war in China ex­panded, po­lice sur­veil­lance

and ha­rass­ment of Chris­tian churches in­creased.”196 Sub­se­quently re­stric­tions were im­posed upon the church by the com­mu­nist-led Chi­nese gov­ern­ment; the church was dra­mat­i­cally weak­ened soon af­ter.

In Ja­pan, church mem­bers were badly op­pressed by the fas­cist gov­ern­ment. The Ja­panese fas­cists were well known as ag­gres­sive at­tack­ers in the nearby coun­tries of Asia. “In 1943 the Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist Church in Ja­pan was dis­solved and its prop­er­ties were or­dered to be sold, largely be­cause of gov­ern­ment an­tag­o­nism to­ward the con­tin­ued preach­ing of Christ’s soon com­ing—an event that did not fig­ure into the

plans of Ja­pan’s mil­i­tary elite. That same year thirty-six na­tional Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist lead­ers and a num­ber of lay­men were im­pris­oned.”197

In Korea also Ad­ven­tists suf­fered spe­cial per­se­cu­tion when their leader, Choi Tai Heun; died un­der tor­ture dur­ing im­pris­on­ment.198 This was fol­lowed by the civil war in 1950, which re­sulted, in the north and the south por­tion of Korea penin­sula be­ing di­vided.

Nat­u­rally, the church around the world suf­fers when its mem­bers and lead­ers’ are per­se­cuted and op­pressed dur­ing wars. There is no rea­son that the Sev­enth-day Ad­ven­tist Church to fa­vor au­thor­i­tar­ian and dic­ta­to­rial regimes.

But there are still many chal­lenges that hin­der the Ad­ven­tist church’s play­ing an ac­tive role in such ways as cam­paign­ing di­rectly for free­dom and democ­racy. For ex­am­ple in Myan­mar, the au­thor­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment oc­cu­pied many of the church’s prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing schools and hos­pi­tals, be­gin­ning in 1965. Later many

Chris­tians suf­fered un­der the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment’s re­stric­tion of re­li­gious free­dom.199 Here in Myan­mar, the church needs to be proac­tive.

At the be­gin­ning of twenty-first cen­tury, many in­stances of op­pres­sion of Ad­ven­tist be­liev­ers ex­isted around the world. But the Ad­ven­tist church was weak to deal with those prob­lems, or to find proper so­lu­tions for those who faced threats from au­to­cratic regimes. This con­sti­tuted a real chal­lenge to the de­nom­i­na­tion.

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