CHINESE authorities say they may try to create a theology based on Christianity – that integrates the religion with Chinese culture and is compatible with the country’s socialist beliefs..
Wang Zuoan, a senior official for religious affairs, says China supports the development of Christianity within the country. But “the construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China’s national condition,” the state-backed China Daily website reports. His comments came at a conference in Shanghai.
Official 2010 figures put the number of Christians in state-sanctioned churches at 23 million believers, but The Pew Research Center estimated that 58 million Protestants in the country practiced the religion in 2011, along with 9 million Catholics counted the year before. The country also has vast numbers of believers who meet in secret.
Some experts say the total could be more than 100 million.
But China’s ruling Communist Party is officially atheistic and relations with the church have sometimes been strained. People are only supposed to worship in places approved by the government, but many underground churches operate in China too.
In Wenzhou – sometimes called China’s Jerusalem, where more than one in 10 people are Protestant – state authorities are cracking down on what they say are illegal church buildings, taking away or threatening to remove crosses at more than 130 Protestant churches and demolishing some entirely, the Taipei Times says. It cites experts and church leaders saying they believe the authorities are alarmed by the quick growth of Protestantism in the area, and are trying to suppress it.
Experts and church leaders say the government, which is skilled at heavy-handed persecution of religious believers, is scared by the massive growth of the Christian faith.