Monday, March 5, 2007

400 Million 'Believers' in China?

According to New York Times writer Howard W. French there may be as many as 400 million believers in China. In a recent poll 31.4% of the people age 16 and older described themselves as "religious."

I might have been more excited, but once I read the rest of the article I discovered that the term "believer" was rather broad and all-inclusive. In fact, the article gives almost exclusive attention to the emerging Buddhist faith. Thus, as the title of this post hinted at with quotation marks around believer, the seemingly impressive figure given is still not something for Christians to be too encouraged over.

Granted, one should rejoice that the bamboo walls of communism are less firm these days in keeping out religious belief, especially Christianity. And we can always hope that they will fall completely as happened in the USSR. But the truth that cannot be ignored is that the state still maintains strick control over the public religious practices of the Chineese people.

According to French, "Strict limitations on religion remain, however. Beijing handpicks senior clergy for each of the authorized faiths and frequently persecutes believers in unauthorized faiths, from Falun gong to underground Protestant churches that meet in homes. The government also severely restricts religious education and prohibits proselytizing."

He then also notes that membership in the Communist Party continues as the "major avenue" for personal advancement in society. Furthermore, the Party does not allow members to actually practice religion and there is obvious prejudice against believers within the universities and in the workplace.

Satan still maintains a strong grip on this nation. And even if more are becoming "religious," and even if the state is willing to acknowledge this, we still mourn the fact that the evil one is deceiving them into Christ-less faiths leading to hell alone. China must remain long in our prayers. The work is still only begun.....

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