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Taiwan

Christianity in China 'growing fast'

'Now has 100 million followers', Shanghai playright tells Taiwan audience

Francis Kuo, Taipei

Francis Kuo, Taipei

Updated: May 27, 2011 09:27 AM GMT
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Christianity in China 'growing fast'
Jiang Yuanlai (far left) speaks at the talk on
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Despite being ruled by the atheist Communist party, mainland China’s “greatest secret” is the rapid growth of the Christian population, which has created a huge impact on society. The greatest challenge to this is not persecution from the authorities, but secularism brought about by economic development after reform and the open-door policy, said Jiang Yuanlai, a Protestant playwright from Shanghai. Jiang revealed these “secrets” in a talk on Modernization Seen From the Angle of Faith in Taipei. The talk formed part of a lecture series, The China That You May Not Know organized by the Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation. After the screening of the Bamboo Cross, a documentary on the growth and development of the Protestant Church in China, Jiang said there are now around 100 million Christians in China, including 10 million Catholics. Jiang, 58, said in the three decades since the open-door policy, the Communists have turned from maintaining a strong ideological position to stressing pragmatism, and thus, “there are lots of possibilities in the future.” Years ago, “as a Christian, we could only pray for the ruling party while sacrificing our own interests to lead China in a better direction,” he said. Among the examples Jiang cited to demonstrate this was the solid faith of Catholic fisherman living in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the 1990s. They tried to avoid persecution by holding Mass at midnight.  In one area they rowed their boats to the center of a lake and surrounded a small, dimly-lit boat, in which an elderly priest celebrated Mass, he said. While noting that there are special economic zones in China, Jiang said that if there is to be any “religious special zone,” Wenzhou city in Zhejiang province should be the place, since house churches and government-sanctioned churches can be found everywhere. Related reports Underground churches petition Chinese govt Converts who come at a cost TA14320

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