Friday, August 8, 2014

"Chinese" Christianity?

China has a poor track record on religious freedom issues. From the persecution of Falun Gong to attempts at regulating reincarnation among Tibetan Buddhists, the country is a perfect example of why religious people in the United States should support the separation of church and state. Christianity is now growing in China, and true to form the government is moving to regulate it, going so far as to begin work on an official "Chinese" Christian theology that must be endorsed by any church that wants to operate legally.

"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," said Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

Wang said Chinese Christian theology should be compatible with the country's path of socialism. "The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture," Wang said at a seminar on the Sinicization of Christianity in Shanghai, part of an event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China.

Figures disclosed at the seminars showed that China now has about 23 million to 40 million Protestants, 1.7 to 2.9 percent of the total population. Each year, about 500,000 people are baptized as Protestants. According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs in 2012, the country has about 139,000 approved religious places. Among them, there are about 56,000 Christian churches and gathering sites.

When government gets involved with religion there's no religious freedom for anyone. American Christians who want to establish their brand of Christianity as an official state religion don't seem to understand this. In the short term, they may be able to secure some advantages, but when religion meddles with government, government always meddles back. The establishment clause in the United States constitution may not be the best possible way to protect religious organizations from this sort of interference, but I do think it's the best that anyone has come up with.

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1 comment:

ethnobotanywallum said...

I agree regarding separation of church and state. I think it's wonderful to live in a country where people have such a diverse range of beliefs, from those that don't believe in any form of spirituality, those that believe in one god, those that believe in numerous gods, and those that believe that everything is god :) (and all those in-between)