Dr Li Wenliang, the coronavirus martyr, was not Christian

Protestant websites first mentioned his conversion, but no one in Wuhan’s Christian communities can confirm that claim. He did however join a chat room about Christianity, and so perhaps was "seeker of the faith". The right way to honour him is to guarantee freedom of speech and freedom.

Rome (AsiaNews) - For the past few days, the web has been awash with postings and articles claiming that Li Wenliang, the Wuhan ophthalmologist who first raised concerns about the coronavirus last December only to be censored by police and threatened with dismissal, was in fact a Christian.

Some sort of ‘last will” citing Saint Paul, allegedly made by the doctor a few days before he died, is also circulating on the internet. In it, Li is supposed to have talked about “fighting the good fight” and having kept his faith.

Sources in Wuhan told AsiaNews that Li Wenliang was not Christian, although he did join an online chat room used by Protestant Christians.

Notwithstanding Wuhan’s current difficulties and isolation, no local pastor or parish priest can confirm that the “everyday hero” was baptised.

A Chinese Protestant newspaper, the China Christian Daily, published a piece on 12 February signed by Yan Yile, that describes how Li Wenliang “became” a Christian.

As people, on various online platforms, began honouring the doctor who had died from the virus, some praised his sacrifice as "Christian".

Even his ‘last will’, which some say he wrote on his death bed, is actually a poetic opus written in his honour by people who tried to imagine his thoughts. He did not write it.

Later, the platform that sparked the rumour about his faith, corrected its original postings, describing him instead as "a seeker of the faith".

This said, Li Wenliang may not have been a Christian, but no one can fail to admire his courage and sacrifice.

If we want to honour him, the best way would be: first, guarantee freedom of speech in China, as many Chinese intellectuals and academics have demanded; second, guarantee freedom of religion for everyone, as it is so closely linked to freedom of speech. (B.C.)