Why the Crackdown on Churches in China?

Sid and Al were sitting in a Chinese restaurant. “Sid,” asked Al, “are there any Jews in China?”  “I don’t know,” Sid replied. “Why don’t we ask the waiter?”  When the oriental waiter came by, Al inquired of him, “Are there any Chinese Jews?”  “I don’t know sir, let me check,” the waiter said, and he went into the kitchen. He returned in a few minutes and said, “No, sir. No, Chinese Jews.”  “Are you sure?”  Al said.  “I will check again, sIr,” the waiter replied and went back to the kitchen. While he was still gone, Sid said, “I cannot believe there are no Jews in China. Our people are scattered everywhere.”  When the waiter returned he said, “Sir, no Chinese Jews.”  “Are you really sure?” Al stated again.  “I cannot believe there are no Chinese Jews.”  “Sir, I ask everyone,” the waiter replied exasperated. “Yes, we have Orange Jews, Prune Jews, Tomato Jews and Grape Jews, but we have no Chinese Jews.”

The truth is, there really are very few Jews in China.  According to the World Jewish Congress – out of a total  Chinese population of 1.3 billion, there’s just 2,500 Jews.  However, there are a lot of Christians.  So much so, that according to Fen Yan, Professor of Sociology at Purdue University, and author of, Religion In China: Survival And Revival Under Communist Rule,  “By my calculations, very soon, China will become the largest Christian nation in the world.”  And it is the rise of the latter that has led to the current church crackdown there.

… Let me explain.  China has two kinds of churches, the authorized and the unauthorized.  To be a member of an authorized congregation, you have to register with the government (name, address, and denomination).  Interestingly, this list totals 100 million (15 million more than the 85 million who have registered as members of the communist party, which requires that you have no religion at all).  But Beijing doesn’t really mind this numerical minority status, seeing they can and do keep a close eye on these churches, particularly what goes out from the pulpit.  But it is the unauthorized churches that are causing the greatest concern for communist leaders.  These are the underground believers, meeting in secret..  Their numbers are said to be 125 million and growing. So by 2030, it is forecast that this current combined 225 million figure for saints will grow to 250 million, making China (an officially atheist country) the largest Christian nation in the world (bypassing the United States).  Thus in China, for every one “dyed in the wool” communist there will soon be three “washed in the blood” believers.  (This also explains why on Chinese Google, searches for “Christian churches” and “Jesus” greatly outnumber searches for the “Communist party” and “Premier Xi Jinping”.)  Now, although Christians in China have always been subject to persecution, it is getting worse as the number of saints continue to multiply.  But also, for the first time, Christians there are beginning to flex their numerical muscle – as in some areas of the nation, police and soldiers have retreated and left alone discovered worship meetings.

The bottom line?  Isn’t it ironic that in North America (with religious freedom) Christianity is on the decline.  But in communist China, (with religious persecution) Christianity is on the rise.  I can tell you this – it sure has China’s leaders in Red Square scratching their heads.