Why Christianity is Thriving in China Today

Christianity has been growing rapidly in China despite government restrictions. Chinese government policy on Christianity has changed from “suppression” (1949-1966) and “eradication” (1966-1979) to “controlling to weaken” (1979-1995) and “controlling to contain” (1995-2010). The number of Protestant Christians has multiplied from fewer than 1 million in 1949 to 30 to 60 million today. Catholic Christians have persevered as well. In addition to Christians in rural areas, several new categories of urban Christians have emerged, including the so-called “cultural Christians,” “boss Christians,” transnational Christians, Christian lawyers, and Christian artists. A leading expert on Christianity in China based at Purdue University, Fenggang Yang argued that the fundamental reason for Christianity’s growth in China is its perceived compatibility with modernity. During the rapid modernization process, Christian beliefs, rituals, and organizations appear to meet the economic, political, social, and cultural needs of the people. Unless China abandons her endeavor of modernization, he argued, Christianity will continue to thrive in the foreseeable future.

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