The Separation of Church & State Defended: Selected Writings of James E. Wood, Jr.

By James E. Wood Jr.; Derek H. Davis | Go to book overview

Religion and the State in China: Winter Is Past

Today there is evidence of a religious resurgence in China. In the words of a Chinese university professor on a recent visit to the United States, "Religions in China are reviving, not dying; they are alive, not dead." Nowhere is this more evident than with respect to Christianity, which presently has more than twice as many churches and believers as were to be found in China prior to the Communist Revolution in 1949. This new- found status of Christianity in China is dramatically celebrated and symbolized in a contemporary Chinese hymn, "Winter Is Past," which today has become for Chinese Christians one of their most beloved hymns. After almost two decades of trying to eliminate religion from the country, climaxed by a decade of the Cultural Revolution ( 1966- 1976), during which time an intense effort was made to stamp out all vestiges of religion, since 1976 the government of China has been gradually liberalizing its policies toward religion. Indeed, during the past decade, particularly since 1980, great strides toward religious freedom have been made in China.


I

In China's more than four thousand years of history, religion has played a long and varied role. As in other civilizations and societies throughout the world, religion has been a molder and purveyor of much of Chinese culture. As elsewhere, religion in China was traditionally for the community as a whole and not for the individual. In addition, religion and the state were

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