On November 1, 2014, The Economist published an excellent article about the church in China, titled "Cracks in the Atheist Edifice." Written by veteran correspondent Rob Gifford (author of China Road), the article gives an overview of how the church (and individual Christians) in China are stepping out of the shadows, and the various ways in which the government is being forced to deal with this growing and more visible church.
These ten quotes from the article caught my attention.
- (Regarding the church/cross demolition campaign in Wenzhou). "Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city's famous freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party's ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party's atheism."
- "Christianity is getting hard to control in China, and getting harder all the time."
- "The line is blurring between house churches and official ones and Christians are starting to emerge from hiding to play a more active part in society."
- "Any shift in official thinking on religion could have big ramifications for the way China handles a host of domestic challenges..."
- "Christianity, in particular, is associated with 19th century Western imperial encroachment, and thus the party's treatment of Christians offers a sharp insight into the way its attitudes are changing."
- "Many Chinese are attracted to Christianity because, now that belief in Marxism is declining, it offers a complete moral system with a transcendental source."
- "One civil rights activist says that, of the 50 most senior civil rights lawyers in China, probably half are Christians."
- (In order to maintain stability) "Increasingly the party needs the help of religious believers."
- "In an age of hedonism and corruption, selfless activism has helped the churches' reputation; not least, it has persuaded the regime that Christians are not out to overthrow it."
- "As one Beijing house church elder declared, with a nod to the erosion of Christian faith in Western Europe: "If we get full religious freedom, then the church is finished."
Photo Credit: Joann Pittman