The Bishop and the Bible
Is the Chinese government preparing a crackdown on Christianity in China? And does it have to do with a boom in religiosity?
In two New York Times pieces I look at worrying signs that the government is taking steps against Christianity and Islam, while promoting traditional faiths.
This was a theme on my recent book, The Souls of China, and it now seems that the administration of Xi Jinping is continuing to move in that direction, especially after the 19th Party Congress and tough new rules on regulations. While Buddhism, Daoism and folk religion roar ahead, China's two Abrahamic faiths face growing restrictions.
In this short piece for the TImes published before Easter, I noted that a prominent underground Catholic bishop I'd written about earlier in the year, Guo Xijin, was detained so he wouldn't be able to participate in the Easter Mass. In the end, he was released, but it seemed like an inauspicious move to make with negotiations continuing for a deal between the Vatican and Rome.
And then in this meatier piece, I look at efforts to limit Bible sales. I also wrapped in the interesting results of the new report on religion. This was the first official statement on religion--a "white paper"--in over two decades so it was significant. The paper showed a startling increase in believers, especially Christians--a reason for the steps against the bishop and the Bible?