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Chen Zongrong, a Chinese official, recently stated during a briefing on religious affairs in China, "I think there is no religion in human society that is above the state."
This statement from the government of China pertaining to Christianity has been steadfast and in replica of the outlook to all of Chinese society for the purpose of maintaining authoritarian control. There a minimal amount of Christian churches that are allowed in China, and they are governed by handpicked Chinese officials representing themselves falsely as Bishops of the Catholic Church.
Foreign interference, as China labels it, includes any religious affairs in the country that are not governed and overseen by the state. Just this past Tuesday, senior officials extinguished any hopes of an imminent deal with Christian churches in general including the Vatican. The Vatican and China broke off diplomatic relations in 1951, two years after the Communist takeover of the country.
Chinese law and policy states that they do not allow Christian groups, underground, or house churches, that are not registered with the government. Christianity in China appeared in the 7th century, during the Teng dynasty. It took root when it was reintroduced by Jesuit Missionaries in the 16th century. Since the 1960's, China has had a bit of a Christian revival, albeit a very small percentage of the population, approximately 2-4%. But the government has recently tightened its control and hold on even these believers.
Estimates vary, but surveys seem to determine that there are approximately 6-31 million Chinese Christians who are open about their beliefs, with a number of other Christians worshiping Jesus in underground churches. Legally, only Chinese citizens who are over the age of 18 are permitted to join officially sanctioned Christian groups that are registered for government approval.
Mr. Chen, whose department is composed of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, stated, "Religion must adapt to the society it is in. If a religion is incompatible with its society, this religion cannot survive and develop."
Mr. Ch department is currently being absorbed and filtered into a branch of the Communist Party as part of a sweeping campaign for government reorganization.Written by James Rathman; Minister for Jesus Christ