Chinese Catholics attend an Ash Wednesday mass at a state-sanctioned church in Beijing. Greg Baker/AFP via Getty images

Tens of millions of Chinese now determine as Christians, and also the number has actually grown rapidly, posing challenges for a federal government that is official atheist and wary of threats to that is power.

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Backgrounder by Eleanor Albert

last updated October 11, 2018 8:00 to be (EST)


Chinese Catholics to visit an Ash Wednesday mass in ~ a state-sanctioned church in Beijing. Greg Baker/AFP via Getty images


China has actually witnessed a spiritual revival end the past 4 decades, in details with a far-reaching increase in Christian believers. The number of Chinese Protestants has actually grown through an mean of 10 percent annually since 1979. By part estimates, China is on monitor to have actually the world largest populace of believer by 2030. Despite the rise of Christianity gift the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through challenges, it additionally provides brand-new options for enhancing services, such as health care and education, for an increasingly demanding public. The government recently launched a collection of efforts to further regulate, and at time restrict, Christian adherents.

What is the background of Christianity in China?

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Early waves of Christianity began with the come of Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci in China in the late sixteenth and also early seventeenth centuries. The an initial Protestant missionary come China, Robert Morrison, traveled over there in 1807 on behalf of the London Missionary society and translated the Bible  into Mandarin. In the mid-nineteenth century, Christianity came to be a mobilizing political force: Hong Xiuquan emerged a Christian-influenced belief to mount the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864) versus the Qing Dynasty, attracting missionaries and also revolutionaries alike. The rebels amassed manage over an ext than one-third that Chinese territory and also established a rival political order, recognized as the Heavenly Kingdom. The taking place civil war killed an approximated twenty million people.

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The facility of the People’s Republic the China in 1949 brought about wide-scale spiritual repression in mainland China. In maintaining with that Marxist roots, the CCP claimed itself atheist. “Maoist Thought,” a sinification the Marxism-Leninism that placed the future of the Chinese revolution in the hands of the rural peasants, was the dominant ideology. This was specifically true in ~ the elevation of the cultural Revolution (1966–1976), when areas of prayer were demolished, closed, or reappropriated and religious practices to be banned.