Why is Christianity growing in China?

If you were hoping that China would be immune from faith-pimps because of their long history of non-belief, then I apologize in advance for shattering your delusion. Not only is there a strong tendency for superstition in the country, they appear just as vulnerable as the rest of us to religious nonsense. How else can you explain the rise of Christianity in the East?

It is impossible to say how many Christians there are in China today, but no-one denies the numbers are exploding.

The government says 25 million, 18 million Protestants and six million Catholics. Independent estimates all agree this is a vast underestimate. A conservative figure is 60 million. There are already more Chinese at church on a Sunday than in the whole of Europe.

Keep in mind that everything in China is just ‘larger’ because of their huge population difference, so while 60 million sounds like an impressive figure to us, it represents a tiny fraction of their population. Still, I won’t deny that religion is growing, and this may have more to do with a lost sense of community than anything else. In countries with a lot of corruption, it’s difficult to trust any institution. Religions have always done a good job of providing that assurance and trust where none exists. Why should we be surprised the poor and indigent – increasingly ignored by their government – would turn to the comfort of religious dogma to escape their sorrow and connect with others like them?

What can our rational unbelief offer these people? We need to do more if we’re to win the hearts and minds of people. Merely disproving the tenets of faith doesn’t diminish the feelings of community, hope and certainty that religion offers. If we had to debate which side had the better argument to win over people, then we’d be all set. Unfortunately for us, humans aren’t rational. They don’t make up their minds after careful consideration of all the facts. Instead, they rely on intuition, feelings, and emotions to make their decisions for them, and only later intellectually justify these beliefs (we still want to THINK we’re rational, after all).

Education isn’t enough. We need to stop being gigantic pussies about it and take the ‘institutional’ plunge. We need to develop international support networks of the same complexity and devotion as our religious counterparts. We need to offer more than cold comfort, and we certainly can’t ignore all the roles filled by religion. If we truly want religion gone, then we’ll need to stop ignoring what works well for them, and instead embrace the positive attribute and appropriate them for ourselves (with a rational twist, of course).

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Comments (16)

  • avatar

    BlueIndependent

    I hate to say it but religion is only going to grow there. It’s probably the one untapped market for that nonsense, and it happens to be one of the top 2 most densely populated areas. Nevermind the fact that there are religious organizations here performing outreach to China and seeking to convert en masse, especially as China’s once near-unassailable walls are opening wider. The one solace is that lack of belief is growing everywhere else in the world. But yes, this is one major, indirect negative of China finally opening up, as there are 20 preachers to every free thinker, and the preachers have been trying to crack the China problem open for decades. They also have the funds to be able to go periodically, a situation magnified by increased demand for English teachers there.

  • avatar

    BevansDesign

    “Faith-pimps”. I’m going to have to remember that one.

  • avatar

    BevansDesign

    Also, I think it’s probably a mistake to say that they have a history of non-belief. They just have a history of non-religion. Just like in the Soviet Union, religious thinking doesn’t go away just because religion itself is suppressed. In fact, it seems that the best way to encourage religious thinking is to outlaw it, and also to make people feel more powerless, like you said.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Apart from ancestral worship and basic animism, you’ll be hard pressed to find a great deal of religion about. It’s not to say they are enlightened atheists.

  • avatar

    Luc Leblanc

    I believe this situation and the gain religion is making in China is made possible due to his prevalent idealist system; Maoism Communism.

    I see many parallels between Maoism and Islam. Both memetic systems came from the bastardization of a previous one (Marxism Communism and Christianity), Both had their one-man prophet (Mao and Muhammad) and both came with an integrated societal system covering laws, customs and economic areas. For these reasons, I think we need to see China as a religious country with the single caveat that the religion governing it is not based on a “Fantasy Sky-Gawd” but an earth-bound guru with a defective (read: toxic) philosophy. So, for many Chinese, I believe that becoming Christian is merely more than a conversion instead of a rejection of scientific-based reality.

    For them, Jesus is nothing more that “Mao 2.0″; a more reliable dictatorial daddy the deluded Chinese people can follow blindly.This sorry state of affairs will persist until they will make the choice of thinking by themselves.

  • avatar

    Mike Clum

    Good luck bro. You can’t stop God. You couldn’t stop the Bible from being by far the most circulated, worshiped, referenced, printed, and renowned books of all time; you can’t stop Jesus Christ of Nazareth, give up and see the truth. Jesus Saves. Atheism is dead. God Bless the WORLD.

  • avatar

    Luc Leblanc

    Mike, if you implies that the Bible is the most successful fairytale out there, you are sadly mistaken. The “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Cinderella” are way better.

  • avatar

    PaulSchultz

    A fairytale? Wow, I didn’t know there were millions of people who dedicated their lives, and thousands who sacrificed it, for the sake of Little Red Riding Hood… Making
    Uneducated hyperbolized statements to that extent is neither funny nor accurate. It is ignorant. Jesus will swag the world….and then save it. #peaceout #basedministries

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    The truth hurts, but yes, millions of people believe in a fairy tale. Sorry it sounds like “uneducated hyperbole”, but you’re trying to pretend that a 2000 year old dead Palestinian is going to descend from the sky, murder most of mankind, and then rule it for 1000 years.

    I’d call that some pretty fucked up nonsense that puts us all in danger.

    As for the funny, I seem to do just fine.

  • avatar

    manz

    interview with the atheist
    me:so aah tell us why u don’t believe in God ?
    atheist: its cool to be atheist and coz i have done my homework pretty well,i mean come on who in his right mind believes in fairy tales
    me: please enlighten us more about your homework
    atheist: i have various sources and oh i feel it in my gut that am right
    me:say mean u have exhausted all sources and reports of supernatural occurrences that prove existence God
    atheist: as i said i don’t buy fairy tales
    me: okay i can say i have been lucky to travel to the Caribbeans,westafrica and truth be told i have seen bizarre occurrences which cant be explained rationally, i have witnessed people healed before my eyes in Jesu…..
    atheist:nonooonoo hold your horses mr i think ur quite a delusional character
    me:am telling u the truth and it will set u free,so i..
    atheist:what the f**k are u taking about
    me:since u cant prove or disprove ur belief then its fair to say that if ur right we are both safe but if am right then u…i mean why gamble on something so complex with possible ramifications on ur side,its not that ur just putting ur mere pants on the line..
    atheist: enough of that stupidity
    me: thank u mr atheist and i wish u well!!

  • avatar

    The Good Christian

    Hahaha.
    Mao tried to kill religion in China yet instead he made it easier for Christianity to spread and become a better alternative for the chinese people.
    Cheers.

  • avatar

    miss

    The bible is actually a book of history, facts. In fact, archeologists consult it because of its historacity and accuracy…..they find what they’re looking for by reading about
    the cities/events that took place, recorded in the Bible…just read it and find out.

  • avatar

    Armand

    God bless the chinese. You can’t stop christianity. Persecution is nothing new to christianity. I love you Jacob Fortin and I hope you find the truth that is Jesus christ. Even though you mock him and make fun of him like people have been doing ever since he was born, he still loves you and will never forsake you. Tommorows not promised for any one my friend, give him a chance. Much love brother.

  • avatar

    truthbearer

    It will be interesting to see atheists trying to uplift the human spirit with??? LOL, not to make fun of your beliefs dear “know it all”, but it’s been proven using the scientific method that human beings do indeed need to have their spiritual side cultivated in some way. Now you could be “spiritual but not religious”, that works for some. But there will never be a power greater then the worlds great religions that actually has the capability of lifting the most destitute, and guiding the most educated and well off of our lot. I know you don’t believe this dear atheist, but belief has nothing to do with how smart you are!

  • avatar

    bwilmott

    sounds like you want to start a religion :) haha. I love how whenever christianity grows in a country its always because the people are “stupid” or uninformed or lack sense of community that religion offers. funny.

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