» 08/07/2014, 00.00
Growth of Protestants in China: the frustrations of Wang Zuoan
At a seminar on " The Sinicization of Christianity in Shanghai," the Director of the Office of Religious Affairs claims he wants to support the Protestant communities and their development. In reality, the number of Protestants belonging to communities not under government control is on the rise. A campaign to demolish crosses and churches and arrest faithful.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - As news about churches being demolished
in Zhejiang (and elsewhere) and Christians arrested and tortured makes global
headlines, the Beijing government vows to continue to promote the development
of a Chinese Christian theology according to the national policy on religion. This was stated by Wang Zuoan, head of the
State Religious Affairs (ASAR).
Speaking two days ago at a seminar in Shanghai, he stressed
that "over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have
developed very quickly with the implementation of the country's religious
policy. In the future, we will continue to boost the development of
Christianity in China".
Of course, clarified Wang, quoted by the China Daily, "the construction of
Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and
integrate with Chinese culture" compatible with "the path of
The study seminar, titled "The Sinicization of
Christianity in Shanghai", he also pitted different figures: the
Protestants in China are between "23 and 40 million," or between
"1.7 and 2.9% "; Every year 500 thousand people are baptized; There
are about 139 thousand registered religious places of worship, of which at
least 56 thousand churches.
The seminar part of an event to celebrate the 60th
anniversary of the founding of the National Committee of the Three-Self
Patriotic Movement, the body that unites all denominations of Protestant
churches under the auspices of the Communist Party.
But Wang Zuoan's careful proclamations and the glitter of
the celebrations mask a certain frustration.
First, because in recent decades the Protestant communities
have grown much more than Wang claims and most importantly they have grown in
communities outside state control. According to Protestant sources there are about
80 million Christians in China but only about 20 million congregate within
registered religious places, so much so that since
2007 there has been a campaign to dissolve the underground Protestant
communities or to absorb them into the official community. The rejection of
these Christians to join the Three-Self movement lies in the fact that it is too
subservient to the Communist Party and does not guarantee a true freedom of the
A second element of frustration is due to the fact that now
many official Protestant Christian openly criticize the Party's religious
policies. This became even more acute after the campaign of demolition and
destruction of crosses and churches in Zhejiang, which has seen the active
resistance of many of the faithful.
Finally, many Protestant pastors have asked the government to
confess to the crimes of Tiananmen as a condition to their adapting
"to the conditions of the nation"; Protestant believers join the
movement of New citizens to request
an end to corruption among party members and true freedom of expression and
According to some experts, if the current trend of
conversions to Christianity continues in 2030 there should be about 250 million
Christians in China, about 20% of the population. Perhaps this prediction is
causing some frustration.
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