Tear your eyes away from the White House campaign for a moment and consider the coming 50 years in an officially atheistic land with the world’s biggest population.
The surprising question at the top of this post is the headline of a July 14 piece for The Week by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a France-based fellow of America’s conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Simultaneously we get the same point from prominent human rights activist Yu Jie, a 2003 convert to Christianity now living in exile near Washington, D.C. Writing in First Things, he contends that “neither the dead hand of Communism, nor the cynical imitation of Confucianism,” nor democracy, nor capitalism, will determine what happens to his homeland. “Christianity is China’s future.”
If that’s possibly so, such a cultural earthquake demands substantive journalism. Why would Yu or Gobry think such a thing?
First, Yu says, Christianity is “the largest force in China outside the Communist Party.” Probably true, because Communism stamped out normal institutions of civil society.
Second, Purdue University sociologist Fenggang Yang estimates China’s Christians number 60 million plus. (Believers often offer higher numbers.) Several million more convert each year, among them a notable number of urban intellectuals. He figures if this growth rate persists by 2030, the mainland’s 200 million would be the largest Christian population in any nation, surpassing the U.S.