A recent Christian church crack-down in Beijing, China’s capital city, made on New York Times. This follows the crack-downs of congregations in many other Chinese cities, and arrests of some of the high-profile critics of the government, driven by the fear of possible local chaos inspired by Arab revolutions, the article says.
I was surprised by the already sizable influence of Western religions in China, a country which has the world’s biggest secular population. I would say Confucius and Taoism are more like philosophy than they are religions. Chinese people believe in saints and their sayings. Before our values were all messed up by the industrialization, years of partial colonization, wars, and experimental development, we used to follow tightly what those saints teach us. However, as it turned out, philosophies as such could hardly survive in a country where 70% of the population are still in rural area, struggling below poverty line and the other 30% buried in the dust of cities that sprung up at over speed limit.
When I was a freshman in Zhejiang University in southern China before I came to the United States, I actually attended Christian services for a couple of times. I heard about this underground church from my roommate, who was persuaded by a church member. We would, on Sundays, take a bus for about a hour to a downtown building, which from outside looks like a deserted office building. We would be led by a church member into an iron door, through a tiny corridor, to a room full of portable plastic chairs and in the front, a stage, where priests led the prayers. During many of the chantings, I would be tearful, when I related those chanting to my experiences, maybe I’m just too emotional a person.
I stopped going to that church as my classes stared going crazy and many other stuff took away the luxury of traveling three hours to and from the church. It was quite an experience, I have to say. However, it’s quite hard and somehow weird to suddenly believe in something which I wasn’t brought up believing in. I’m not even sure if Jesus speaks Mandarin Chinese.
I still want to say we need to give China time. No country would reach any achievement without twisting and struggling, and we are talking about this huge country China, for crying out loud. Just think about all the debate around JFK being a Catholic and, oh yeah, the improper treatment of Muslims in this country after the 9/11 attack before making any judgement.