No one knows exactly how many Christians there are among China’s population of 1.3 billion. There are an estimated 21 million members of the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic movement, but nobody knows how many Protestants worship in unregistered house churches.
Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants. That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.
About 30 miles from Pastor Ni’s church in a dusty country town, a group of women from another state-sanctioned congregation pray ahead of a public performance they have planned for the day. China’s constitution protects freedom of religion, but proselytizing in public places is forbidden. However, the gray areas are growing ever greater, and these women are exploiting those blurred lines.
See more NPR coverage of China’s “religious revolution” here.