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China's Religion Problem

The Tibetan protests show that Christians aren't the only ones fed up with the Party's interference in ecclesiastical matters.

Today's Wall Street Journal comments on China's inability to control religion. The recent protests in Tibet underscore that the Communist Party's attempts to subdue spiritual structures have little effect.

Bret Stephens writes:

The regime banned religion – one of the so-called Four Olds – during the Cultural Revolution. Once it figured out that that didn't work, it sought instead to turn clergy into bureaucrats, and replace the idea of the divine with the mechanics of political control. The results have been, at best, a partial success.

The Party created state sponsored religious groups that do, indeed, have a following. But the official religious groups pale in comparison to the underground ones.

Unofficial Protestants, who attend unsanctioned "house churches," are said to number anywhere between 70 million and 130 million; one prominent Chinese pastor puts the count closer to 300 million. That latter figure is probably exaggerated, but there's no question that Christianity of the unofficial ...
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