Chinese Christians Swelling In Number As Orthodox Christianity Gets Left Behind
China, an officially atheist country that is converting into Christianity at breakneck speed, is bound to become the world's largest Christian country with about 250 million faithful by 2030, save for one group-the Orthodox Christians.
Yang Fenggang of Purdue University said that since the 1980s, the Chinese Christian community has been growing by an average of 10 percent per year. A Pew Research pegged their number at 67 million or roughly about five percent of the total population in mainland China in 2011.
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Unless something short of a miracle happens, however, the Orthodox Christian community-the supposedly prevailing Christian group because of its geographical and historical traces in China-will not see a rise in number.
Present estimates suggest they are less than 0.1% of the population and will remain within their current number in the foreseeable future.
Since the Communist Party of China (CPC) came to power, religions with western flavors have been tolerated but legally banned from the land. This is not the case with the Orthodox Christian church.
According to an article published on The Economist, Orthodox Christianity has legal claims in China because it has historical roots in the land tracing as far back as the 17th century.
In northern China, two communities have been practicing the Orthodox faith for the last three centuries: the Albazinians who are of Russian descent and the Evenks who live near the Siberian border.
The religion has since travelled to Harbin and Shanghai and has all but completely died during the communist takeover. At present, they are only numbering to about 15,000 Orthodox Christians who are largely untethered by priests and church leaders.
Meanwhile, the Christian communities are swelling in mostly underground or "house" churches.
Majority of Chinese Christians are forced to go underground because there are very few state-sanctioned places of worship in the country.
The CCP cadres are wary of the growing popularity of the Christian doctrine, which they fear would overtake that of the ruling party's.
This has come to the fore during the recent persecution of Chinese Christian communities in places like Wenzhou, also known as the Jerusalem of the East, where a massive crackdown against Christians have been raging on since April this year.