What Is The Future Of Religion? When Will China Become the World’s Largest Christian Country? China was once the most secular country essay on china country the world, but in the last three and a half decades, while undergoing rapid modernization, many religions have been thriving. What Is the future of religion?
Professor of Sociology and the Director of the Center of Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. From 1966 to 1979, driven by an atheistic ideology, the Communist Party-State closed down all churches, temples, and mosques. The only other country that eradicated all religion was Albania. In fact, the Albanian Communist leadership was inspired by the Chinese Communists and rushed to implement its eradication policy. Even the Soviet Union kept at least a few hundred churches open for religious worship, including during the harshest periods of anti-religious campaigns. The CCP leaders appeared to believe that religion would die out along with the passing away of pre-1949 generations.
They were confident that the Communist-educated younger generations would not need religion at all. Along with the rapid economic growth since the late 1970s, China has been undergoing rapid industrialization, urbanization, and globalization. Meanwhile, various religions have flourished—not only among older people, but also among post-1949 generations. This was surprising to the atheist Communists and puzzling to the modernist scholars who have subscribed to secularization theories that predict the inevitable decline of religion. Protestant Christianity has been the fastest growing religion in China.
1949, there were no more than one million Protestant Christians. Following decades of suppression and eradication, the CCP admitted in an official document released in 1982 that there were about three million Protestant Christians. Since then, estimates have varied. China but also a reported internal document of the CCP—have made higher estimates, suggesting as many as 100 to 130 million in 2010. 58 million Protestant Christians and 9 million Catholics in China in 2010. I think this is a more prudent estimate that may be used to make projections of future growth. With respect to future developments, we may imagine three different scenarios.
First, China will continue its current mode of steady economic growth and political stability without major change to its religious policy. Second, while economic growth and political stability will continue, the restrictions on Christianity will increase. Third, there will be social and political turmoil, such as revolutions and wars, which would render the religious policy irrelevant. Since 1979, the religious policy has been limited tolerance with strict regulation and tight control. If China experiences no major social upheavals and keeps at its current pace of steady economic growth and social change, and restrictions on religious affairs do not increase, the average annual growth rate is likely to stay at around 10 percent. In this case, the number of Protestant Christians in China could reach 171 million by 2021 and 255 million by 2025. Recent studies have reported that the proportion of Christians in the U.
Assuming that the number of Christians in the U. China could become the largest Protestant country by 2021 and the largest Christian country by 2025. That said, the Party-State seems to be increasing its restrictions on Christianity. In 2014, throughout Zhejiang Province, some church buildings were demolished, and hundreds of crosses on top of church buildings were taken down. Let us imagine that the CCP may even go as far as trying to ban Christianity once again, like it did during the Cultural Revolution. That kind of radical policy will be difficult to implement unless the Party-State also reverts its political and economic policies to that of the Cultural Revolution.
What is more likely to happen is periodic anti-Christian campaigns, much like what we have already experienced in the past 65 years, including some years of eradication or severe persecution but also some years of relatively lax restrictions. In this scenario, the number of Protestant Christians in China will reach 160 millions by 2025 and to 257 millions by 2032. This means that China could become the largest Christian country by 2035, with about 247 million Protestants. Of these three scenarios for future development, I tend to adopt the second out of caution and modesty. If we add the number of Chinese Catholics, which, according to the Pew report, was 9 million in 2010, it is almost certain that China will become the largest Christian country in the world by 2030.