|Desiree Q. Sison |||Apr 21, 2014 04:39 AM EDT|
(Photo : ALAMY)
The number of Christian-Protestants in China has been growing so fast that it could swell to 247 million in 15 years, making the communist country the largest Christian nation in the world, according to a religion expert.
To illustrate how big China's Christian-Protestant community has grown since the mid-seventies, UK-based newspaper, The Telegraph, ran a pre-Easter story by Tom Phillips which took off from the Luishi Church in Zhejiang province, and interviewed a professor about the fast-growing Christian community there.
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The Luishi Church, which was founded by a British missionary in 1886, was shut down during Chairman Mao's anti-Christian drive in the late 50s, and remained closed throughout the Cultural Revolution era, however, was reopened in 1978.
The Christian-Protestant church is among the churches officially sanctioned by the Communist Party after they accepted the government's condition that it would oversee their activities.
Today, Luishi Church, with a seating capacity double that of London's Westminster Abbey, has about 2,600 members who regularly attend church service, Phillips reported.
The US-based Pew Research Center said China's Christian-Protestants numbered about 58 million in 2010.
Brazil only had 40 million and South Africa had 36 million Christians in the same year, Pew said.
Professor Fenggang Yang, an expert on China's religious landscape, told The Telegraph that China's 58-million strong Christian-Protestant community in 2010 could reach 160 million in 2025, putting it ahead of the United States which had 159 million Christians in 2010.
In 15 years, the total number of Christians in China would be more than 247 million, making it the largest Christian nation in the world, according to Yang.
The evangelical movement is fast spreading in other areas of China as well, particularly in Wenzhou City in Zhejiang province, which has come to be known as the "Jerusalem of the East."
A Wenzhou official recently hinted at the Communist Party's growing discomfort over the rise of Christianity, a situation which many parishioners believe was the reason behind the government's order to tear down a dozen churches or their crosses for supposed violations of the building code.
Wenzhou's Sanjiang church was among those scheduled for demolition this month, but a Taiwan-based Christian missionary group appealed the demolition order.
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