I guess it's pretty improbable for an Asian-American kid cut by two NBA teams to come off the dreary bench of the New York Knicks and push the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue out of the athletic limelight. (Sorry, Kate.) The real miracle is that the guy's an evangelical from Harvard, which America's first media megastar, evangelist George Whitefield, denounced for backsliding back in the 1740s. Anyway, news of Lin's latest triumph, a Raptors-beating 3-pointer with half a second left, coincides with a front-page Washington Post scoop that the State Department's new ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, Suzan Johnson Cook, was denied a visa to visit China as planned last week--and that Cook's superiors in the Administration told her not to talk about it.
According to WaPo religion reporters William Wan and Michelle Boorstein, the story comes from "[r]ights advocates working with Cook’s office." It's a measure of Cook's lack of Washington experience that she would let such advocates--hey, back-from-the-dead U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom!--in on what her bosses told her, and a measure of their unfriendliness to the Administration that they should spill the beans. There's nothing very shocking about a decision not to stir up a diplomatic fuss about religious repression in China on the eve of the visit to the U.S. of the Middle Kingdom's heir apparent Xi Jinping. But you can bet there's plenty of agita in the White House this a.m. about the story. Maybe we should have appointed an actual diplomat to that post, eh?
Meanwhile, America's basketball fan-in-chief is no doubt paying attention to what's going on with the Knicks. What he should know is that Jeremy Lin's faith has been nurtured at the Chinese Church in Christ in Mountain View, California. The CCCM is a small denomination founded in Beijing in 1927 by Wang Mingdao, a strictly orthodox evangelical who spent a quarter-century in prison for resisting the Communist authorities. In other words, Lin's faith is directly connected to the story of religious repression in China that has just bitten the White House in the butt. In other words, the GOP catalogue of examples of Administration indifference to religious freedom just acquired another item--one directly connected to February's biggest international sports story.
Update: As in.