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  • Church and State    August 7 
China will create its own version of Christianity
Andrew Wong/Getty Images
Andrew Wong/Getty Images

China has a growing number of Christians, and that's causing increasing tensions with the officially atheistic ruling Chinese Communist Party. China's solution is if you can't beat 'em, co-opt them.

"Over the past decades, the Protestant churches in China have developed very quickly with the implementation of the country's religious policy," says Wang Zuoan, director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper. "The construction of Chinese Christian theology should adapt to China's national condition and integrate with Chinese culture," including its path of socialism.

Christians in China have to worship in state-approved and supervised churches, and official estimates number the country's Protestant population at 23 million to 40 million, with 500,000 more baptized each year. Wang was speaking at an event in Shanghai to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. He didn't address the estimated 12 million Catholics in China, about half of whom illegally follow the lead of the Roman Catholic Church while the other half worship in the officially sanctioned, Vatican-rejecting Catholic church.

Wang didn't elaborate on this new "Chinese Christian theology," but the Three-Self Patriotic Movement's Gu Mengfei explained that the year-old Chinese push to promote correct Christian theology encourages pastors and laypeople alike to extract moral teachings in line with Biblical times and with other religious faiths. "This will encourage more believers to make contributions to the country's harmonious social progress, cultural prosperity, and economic development," Gu added.

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