Washington: Chinese Christians said they presented former US president George W Bush with a Bible handwritten at a labour camp in a bid to highlight concerns about a lack of religious freedom.
The George W Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, said that Bush on Tuesday received one of a number of Bibles which Chinese Christians had copied by hand at a labour camp where they were detained over an illegal religious gathering.
More than two dozen Christians had read the set of homemade Bibles for more than a year, "sustaining the faith of the prisoners who read them, in secret, in the dark of night”, the former president`s institute said in a statement.
It said that the Bush Institute planned to preserve the Bible "along with other significant materials from freedom and democracy movements around the world" as part of a collection that will go online in early 2012.
ChinaAid, a US-based group that assists underground Christians in the country, said in a statement that the Bible came from a camp in northwestern China.
It said it offered the Bible "as a token of appreciation for president Bush`s dedication to the advancement of religious freedom in China and his tireless efforts as an advocate for those Chinese in bondage."
ChinaAid`s founder, Bob Fu, met Bush along with several other Chinese including a daughter of Gao Zhisheng, a prominent human rights lawyer who has defended underground Christians and other vulnerable groups. Gao has been missing since February 2009.
Bush, a born-again Christian, wrote in his memoir that he pressed China on religious freedom while in the White House but that ex-president Jiang Zemin told him bluntly that he did not "trust" the Bible.