Deep thinkers in the U. S. of A. have all concluded that religion is a scourge. They want to replace it with atheism. By the light of their reason, believing in nothing is more humane than believing in something.
Yesterday, just in time for Easter, the Daily Telegraph reported that religion is alive and well and expanding… in China.
A nation that has known state-imposed atheism is now enjoying a measure of religious freedom. The result: Christian congregations are growing rapidly in China, to the point that the nation is fast becoming one of the largest Christian nations on the planet.
The Telegraph reports:
Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.
Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.
Purdue sociology professor Fenggang Yang offers this opinion:
"Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this," Prof Yang said. "It's ironic – they didn't. They actually failed completely."
As might be expected, party leaders are somewhat wary of the development. True enough, the 1982 constitution guarantees the right to engage in “normal religious activities.” Yet, churches that want to function openly are obliged to submit to Communist party oversight. Authorities want to be sure that preachers are not fomenting sedition.
As religion declines in the West, it is growing in China. Could it be a portent?
From Yunnan province in China's balmy southwest to Liaoning in its industrial northeast, congregations are booming and more Chinese are thought to attend Sunday services each week than do Christians across the whole of Europe.
Surely, it is more than passing strange. A nation that is still ruled by the Communist Party seems to have fostered free enterprise and Christian worship. It is happening while so-called free nations have been running away from free enterprise and from religion.
'Tis a puzzlement.