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Church in Shenzhen, China. Photo: Pexels.

Global Christian Relief: Chinese church not in decline

Contrary to a recent report, the number of Christians in China is not declining, despite a government crackdown, the leader of Global Christian Relief said.

“A recent Pew Research Report measuring religion in China suggests that Christianity in the country has stagnated and is perhaps even in decline,” President and CEO David Curry said. “But to borrow from Mark Twain, such suggestions seem greatly exaggerated. In fact, many of us who are advocating for persecuted Christians globally believe the Christian community in China might even be growing.”

Curry, who also serves as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, said internal research by Global Christian Relief suggests Pew’s estimates “could be off by as much as 100 million, but no one truly knows the size” of the Chinese Christian population.

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The Pew study cited a survey by the Chinese General Social Survey, which said that about 23.2 million adults in China self-identified as Christian in 2010, while 19.9 million identified as Christians in the 2018. Both Curry and Pew Research noted such figures might be unreliable, however. Curry said that “according to the analysts within Global Christian Relief and our many contacts on the ground in China, only about one in five people is self-reporting.”

Curry said the church in China is “definitely under attack, and that Christians have faced increased pressure since President Xi solidified his control. “Part of that scenario is to try to minimize faith in general, but Christianity specifically, in large part because there are so many Christians, and this is why the number of Christians is significant,” he said,

Chinese-style pressure could be fast approaching for Western Christians, Curry said.

“I think you’re going to see it first in censorship and then deplatforming,” he said. “I think you’re going to see it in restrictions to banking systems for Christian ministries. I think you’ll see it in using the tax system to punish Christian ministries or restrict them. It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the church, but I think in the long run, the American church will have a chance to grow healthier if they respond properly, as I think the church thus far in China is getting healthier, even as it’s under pressure.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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