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What Teaching in China Taught Me About Religious Freedom

The meaning of religious freedom came home to me, fittingly enough, by the dawn’s early light, slanting through a dormitory window in China many years ago.

I was one of 10 young people spending a summer teaching English as a second language classes at an agricultural college 3,000 miles west of Beijing, in what’s known now as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region — home to many Muslims and other minorities. It’s not an especially healthy place to be these days for those who take their faith (Muslim or Christian) seriously.

My journey there provided an enduring education on many levels, deeply expanding my appreciation for Eastern hospitality and culture, Western roads and plumbing (when a drought came on during our tenure, and water was scarce, school officials simply padlocked the bathrooms), and what it means not only to hold to religious faith, but to be able to share it freely.

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