"Renaissance" of official Chinese Catholic churches creates conflicts
While continuing to crack down on underground house churches, China has in recent years seen a resurgence of faith and a relaxation in government policy toward registered groups, The New York Times reported yesterday.
The article focuses on the "remarkable renaissance" in Catholicism in the country. According to a Chinese Catholic charity, hundreds of Catholic churches have been built in one province alone in recent years. The article reads:
It is a striking burst of religious activity in a country where freedom to worship varies significantly from place to place, depending on the often begrudging tolerance of local officials, the negotiating skills of parish priests and their willingness to abide by government rules on registration and practice.
The growth of "official" Catholic churches, however, has created conflicts with underground churches. The registered churches reportedly give the Communist Party authority in the church and can receive foreign donations.
"Even as this kind of money is coming in, the persecution of underground Catholics is ongoing and getting worse — all 50 of the underground bishops are now under arrest, under surveillance or on the run," Joseph Kung, head of the Cardinal Kung Foundation told the Times. "You are either a good Catholic or not quite a good Catholic, like the people in the 'patriotic' church."
Jonah earns $6.5 million
The first theatrical release from Big Idea Productions, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, made an estimated $6.5 million this weekend. The film, an animated retelling of the biblical story, opened on 940 screens. The film's strong per-screen average ($6,915) helped it place sixth in the weekend's top ten box office among Hollywood films playing in many more theaters. (For instance, the Silence of the Lambs prequel, Red Dragon, opened this weekend on 3,357 screens). The film has also enjoyed strong reviews from Christian and mainstream critics.
On Friday, Christianity Today reported that former Big Idea staffers said Jonah's success could determine the company's future. CEO Phil Vischer responded to the article late on Friday and the statement appears on our site today.
- America's elusive minority: Muslims | A new study finds them wealthy, educated, growing fast. But old suspicion from 9/11 complicates their plight. (The Christian Science Monitor)
- Muslims finding faith challenged in Bible Belt | Muslims in the South are struggling to gain acceptance in a region that celebrates Christian values. (The Chicago Tribune)
Politics and law:
- Religion fits in politics, say ex-pols | Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life examines faith and public policy (UPI)
- Coalition sets conference to bridge religion, politics | Religious rhetoric is not playing a role in this election cycle the way it did in the 2000 presidential race, but activists are gearing up to make sure religion is not irrelevant. (The Washington Times)
- Evangelical Christians bring their crusade to Israel | Born-again ranks offer support for biblical land. (The Toronto Star)
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