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China will create own Christian belief system amid tensions with church, says official

ICC Note:

With about 500,000 people baptized every year, the growth of Christianity in China has been phenomenal. However, China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and sees religions as potential ideological threats. With tensions between religion and state on the rise, especially more than 200 churches and crosses in Zhejiang Province have been demolished by local authorities, China’s state media reported on Thursday that China may try to create a “Christian theology” that is compatible with the country’s socialist beliefs. Clike here to read everything you need to know about China’s ongoing anti-church campaign.

08/07/2014 China (South China Morning Post)– China will construct a “Chinese Christian theology” suitable for the country, state media reported on Thursday, as both the number of believers and tensions with the authorities are on the rise.

China has between 23 million and 40 million Protestants, accounting for 1.7 to 2.9 per cent of the total population, the state-run China Daily said, citing figures given at a seminar in Shanghai.

About 500,000 people are baptised as Protestants every year, it added.

“Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country’s religious policy,” the paper quoted Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, as saying.

“The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture.”

China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and keeps a tight grip on religion for fear it could challenge its grip on power. It requires believers to worship in places approved by the state and under government supervision.

Besides officially sanctioned churches, China also has “underground” or “house” churches which seek to exist outside government control and are occasionally raided and shut down.

In April, authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou, known as China’s Jerusalem, with more than a million Christians, demolished a church following government claims it was an illegal structure.

Though a registered church, state media reported that the building was far larger than originally approved.

“Over the past years, China’s Protestantism has become one of the fastest growing universal churches,” Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council, was quoted as saying in the China Daily report.

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