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By Catholic Online

1/21/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christians in China have reportedly increased a hundred-fold

As President Hu Jintao meets with President Obama this week, some observers say an explosive growth in Christianity may be transforming the officially atheist regime. According to China Aid, the number of Christians in China has increased 100-fold since 1949. Current estimates range from 80 million to 130 million active members. One Chinese Christian businessman predicts that number doubling or even tripling in the next generation.

Beijing's often brutal crackdown on those of the Christian faith have included roundups, blacklisting and jailing. The government has driven thousands of followers underground, spurring on the house church network. It's estimated that 60 percent of Chinese Christians attend unregistered house churches.

Beijing's often brutal crackdown on those of the Christian faith have included roundups, blacklisting and jailing. The government has driven thousands of followers underground, spurring on the house church network. It's estimated that 60 percent of Chinese Christians attend unregistered house churches.

Highlights

By Catholic Online

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/21/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: China, Christianity, Mao ZeDong, Catholic, persecution


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As President Hu Jintao meets with President Obama this week, some observers say an explosive growth in Christianity may be transforming the officially atheist regime. According to China Aid, the number of Christians in China has increased 100-fold since 1949. Current estimates range from 80 million to 130 million active members. One Chinese Christian businessman predicts that number doubling or even tripling in the next generation.

According to Dr. David Aikman, author of "Jesus in Beijing," "If the Chinese become Christianized ... which doesn't mean you have a majority of people who are Christians, but it means about 25 to 30 percent of people in positions of influence, in politics, in culture, in the media. If you have that component of a major power that accepts Christianity enthusiastically as a guide to life, (then) that is going to change the world view of the leaders of China."

Protestant evangelist Dr. Luis Palau, who has preached in China, says Christians are among the country's most cohesive groups. "They all preach the same gospel. There are no liberals or conservative branches ... they all believe the same."

Supporters say even estimating 80 million Christians in China, a conservative figure, still has them outnumbering the membership of the Communist Party, which at last check, in June 2010, and was 78 million.

China Aid's Bob Fu says Christianity experienced growth after the Tiananmen Square conflict. Six of the 30 student leaders who were arrested converted to Christianity.

"Ironically," Fu says, "church history shows that the more the political persecution, the more believers there will be. This is the case in the Roman Empire, and also with China."

One observer contends that Chairman Mao Zedong, Communist China's founder, may have unwittingly paved the way.

"What Chairman Mao did that the emperors did not do, he brought in a form of pseudo monotheism, a pseudo person to worship ... himself ... as a personal god," Chan-Kei Thong, a businessman who lived and worked in China for 30 years. "The Christian God fits into that."

The Chinese government is not pleased at the prospect of Christianity's growth as the government says there are 28.6 million Christians. That's because it only counts churches that are registered with the government.

Beijing's often brutal crackdown on those of the Christian faith, have included roundups, blacklisting and jailing. The government has driven thousands of followers underground, spurring on the house church network. It's estimated that 60 percent of Chinese Christians attend unregistered house churches.

Catholic Christians in China have faced increasing hostility with the growth of what is called the "Patriotic" Church, a State sponsored Chinese Catholic expression which seeks to undermine the authority of the Pope and the teaching office, the Magisterium, of the Roman Catholic Church.

Recently, this Patriotic Church proceeded with the consecration of one of its own Bishops with no approval from the Holy See. Catholic bishops and Priests loyal to the Church were coerced and compelled to attend or face persecution. Pope benedict XVI has heroically and publicly spoken out against this persecution and encouraged the Chinese faithful to persevere.

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