Christianity in China Grows Quickly, Quietly

Government puts total enrollment at 21M; others say 130M
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2008 3:32 PM CDT
China's officially atheist government permits religious observance, but allows worship only in Communist Party-controlled churches. Worship outside that official structure is banned.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Despite government restrictions, Christianity in China is widespread and growing. Authorities typically look the other way, occasionally applying pressure that only seems to spread religion's influence, reports the Economist. Most of the Protestant "house churches" consist of 25 people—the largest legal gathering—where new Christians lead newer converts in bible study. "In China, the 2-year-old Christian teaches the 1-year-old," says a pastor.

China's communist party, officially atheist, has an uneasy relationship with the Vatican, raising suspicion about Chinese Catholics. Protestants see less scrutiny, but clashes remain: China's one-child policy doesn't sit well with Christians. But President Hu Jintao has allowed that "the knowledge of religious people must be harnessed to build a prosperous society.” (Read more China stories.)