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China's Christians
Now We Persecute You, Now We Don't

In some parts of China, persecution of the country’s Christian population has gotten much worse recently, but that may be only half the story. The Economist tackles the mild normalization of Christianity in China, as the religion grows and even some members of the official communist party become more open about their faith. One theme of the piece is that official persecution of Christians, though real, is less than one might expect. According to one estimate, 7,400 Chinese Christians were victims of persecution last year—less than .01 percent of the country’s Christian population.

Otherwise authorities are reluctant to crack down because Christian churches have become more economically and politically active in ways the government might find useful:

 Some wealthy business folk in Wenzhou have become believers—they are dubbed “boss Christians”—and have built large churches in the city. One holds evening meetings at which businessmen and women explain “biblical” approaches to making money. Others form groups encouraging each other to do business honestly, pay taxes and help the poor. Rare is the official anywhere in China who would want to scare away investors from his area.

In other regions local leaders lend support, or turn a blind eye, because they find that Christians are good citizens. Their commitment to community welfare helps to reinforce precious stability. In some large cities the government itself is sponsoring the construction of new Three Self churches: Chongyi church, in Hangzhou, can seat 5,000 people. Three Self pastors are starting to talk to house-church leaders; conversely, house-church leaders (often correctly) no longer consider official churches to be full of party stooges.

This involvement cuts two ways, however, as not every cause Christian churches dedicate themselves to will find favor with the ruling authorities. Occupy Central, the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, was and continues to be heavily influenced by Christianity, with several of the leaders being themselves Catholics. Read the whole Economist piece to get a picture of the ways in which Christianity might be going somewhat more mainstream in China—and what that might mean for the future of the country and its churches.

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  • amoose1959

    Don’t have to go to China, I see it at my own Church in CT. Beware secular liberals( oxymoron) Christianity is not just restricted to the yahoos as you want the world to believe Fret not, there is always a place for you: “… there will always be non-believers in this world…” .

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Western Culture is Mankind’s bleeding edge culture, and is wholly responsible for modern civilization, and it evolved from Christian European Culture. None of Mankind’s other cultures value Capitalism, The Rule of Law, and Democracy to the extent and in the way that Christianity does. Of all the world’s religions Christianity has placed a higher value on truth over church dogma, with cases like that of the church persecution of Galileo and the inquisition serving as lessons of the church being wrong and unjust.

  • FriendlyGoat

    “Others form groups encouraging each other to do business honestly, pay taxes and help the poor.”

    It’s hard to imagine why communists would have any problem with these ideas, since they are generally good ideas. We have to wonder why such thoughts, which once were widely accepted in American churches, have gone out of style here. Our church folks have adopted the very strange notion that the more we worship the accumulations of wealth by relatively small numbers of low-taxed multi-millionaires and billionaires, the more we approach righteousness (or some sort of confusion of that nature.)

    There is this odd article of “faith” passed around in our American Christian Community that OF COURSE people and companies with cash left in hand (from low taxes) will use it to hire new people and expand pay/benefits. We need our churches to basically return to Jesus instead of dabbling in economic politics——BECAUSE their favorite economic theory is not materializing. Low taxation of high-end income and estates does not create jobs. It creates government deficits, excessive executive compensation, share buy-backs, job-killing mergers and financial asset bubbles—–basically everything BUT jobs and raises for people. Our America of 2014 is showing us this reality on signs as bright as neon, and our own church folks now seem to be some of the worst hold-outs—-REFUSING to read those signs.

    Taxes are historically low, the stock market is historically high, the FED has been pumping at break-neck speed, and ordinary people in red states and blue states are left to wonder why THEY are left behind. Some of their churches may have been misleading the sheep.

    • Tom

      “It’s hard to imagine why communists would have any problem with these ideas, since they are generally good ideas.”

      Because the state isn’t doing it, non-state organizations are. Viewed from an apparatchik’s viewpoint, that makes them a threat.

      The rest of your comment is your usual spiel, and we’re still not buying.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I was SPECIFIC about quoting from this article what are the good ideas: “To do business honestly, pay taxes and help the poor.” Those three things, as a philosophy, are not a threat to an apparatchik in China or to freedom lovers in America. I’m aware that Christians are and have been persecuted in China—-but not for those reasons.

        As for what you describe as “we” (in disapproving my comments), I realize that this place is haunted by a small collection of recalcitrant right wingers. The herd mentality here does not negatively affect the validity of points of view outside your box-mind.

        • Tom

          You managed to miss the entire point of what I just said, but that’s okay, that’s normal.
          And here’s the thing: we’ve heard your ideas before, over and over again. I get annoyed with Jacksonian Libertarian, because every time he comments on domestic affairs he repeats the same thing, over and over again.
          You are guilty of the same sin–at least vary your regurgitation of leftist talking points.

          • FriendlyGoat

            My points are actually original. Almost NO ONE writes what I wrote here on this thread. The regurgitation is mostly from people on your side. Have you heard the one about selling health insurance across state lines?
            As though ANYONE from the right has EVER put any detail on that?

          • Tom

            Why add detail to it? It’s not like you’ve done any better with the plans you’ve outlined here.
            Furthermore, I realize you think you’re an original thinker, but you’re not. The American left has been repeating your “raise taxes on businesses” pretty much since the New Deal, and “non-progressive churches out of politics” since Jerry Falwell.
            This is okay, most every idea with merit has been had before. However, when you repeat them over and over again, it ticks everyone off, especially when we’ve heard it all before.

          • FriendlyGoat

            What was it Rhett Butler said? Oh, I know. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” (how ticked off you are—-or anyone else is—– on this forum).

            As for the reason you add detail to “selling insurance across state lines”, that is required for full disclosure of intent—aka integrity—–something you’re omitting in nearly everything you say. NOTHING is implemented in a nation without detail. Why add detail to it, you ask? That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in print. Tom. You’re a snowjob machine.

            Selling insurance across state lines means eliminating federal standards for the terms of policies AND allowing policies from the least-regulated state to undercut the standards which the citizens of the other 49 states have established. If your side does not volunteer than information, they are basically crooks.

          • Tom

            The reason I saw no reason to do it is because I’ve never brought it up with you, and find it ludicrous that you would do so here. That was snark, not seriousness, because that was all your comment deserved.
            Furthermore, your third paragraph makes no sense. Wouldn’t allowing insurance to be sold across state lines increase federal regulation, due to the Interstate Commerce Clause? Also, your assumption that all of a sudden everyone will suddenly decide to buy terrible insurance makes about as much sense as your statement, a few weeks ago, that Uber will lead to poor people being stranded in favor of “rich smartphone owners.”
            Edit: If you don’t care what we think, why comment here, unless you like being “that guy.”

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t mind being “that guy”. The liberal side of everything is under-represented here, although much worse so by those commenting than by TAI itself.

            As for caring what “we” (the gang here) thinks, I do read many, if not most, of the comments to find out what people think. That does not mean I have to tailor my own thoughts to the norm of the herd.

            With respect to “selling insurance across state lines”, there are very few places the Republicans have ever fleshed this out. But one where they have is the 2017 Project Alternative, a somewhat-defined plot to replace Obamacare in 2017 after Obama is gone. It relies heavily on the selling-across-lines concept and gives, as an example, a discussion of why they believe New Jersey residents should be able to buy insurance written on Texas standards.
            If this becomes the norm, then the policies from the state with the least standards are going to become the cheapest and all other insurers have to adjust to THAT (whether the citizens of each state approve or not.)

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