Inside China’s Underground Churches

At China Real Time Report, Brian Spegele describes two pastors and the house churches they lead, whose differences illustrate the broad spectrum of Chinese drawn to Christianity.

The amiable Mr. Zhang had a propensity for spitting on the lapel of his dark gray suit coat as he preached in a coarse Henan accent about the need for greater religious openness. He founded in 2005 the Chinese House Church Alliance, an organization that brings together dozens of underground church pastors from across China. Unlike in Beijing and other large cities, where the embrace of Christianity is stylish for young and upwardly mobile Chinese, many of the Christians served by Mr. Zhang’s House Church Alliance are those left behind by the country’s newfound economic power.

… At another service at the Beijing Zion church, about 500 miles northeast of Nanyang, … the scene was strikingly different. Women decked out in floral summertime dresses clicked away on iPhones as they waited for Pastor Jin Mingri to begin. At least one Mercedes, Audi or BMW is parked most Sundays outside the office building where Zion is housed ….

The government wouldn’t likely oppose much of what Mr. Jin preaches. He talks a lot about morals and family. Occasionally, however, he’ll delve into politics, at times using biblical allegories to explain repression of Christians in China today.

There are no purely religious questions in China, Mr. Jin told me in one of our conversations, because faith and politics remain deeply intertwined.

Read about suppression of house churches and the parallel resurgence of other religions in China via CDT.