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Pope Francis

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A look at why Christianity is seen as a threat by China's Communist Government

2014-05-23

China is officially an atheist country, but in the last four decades religion has been on the rise, especially Christianity. 

The communist government isn't happy about it. It recently released a security alert describing Christianity as a threat to the country's identity

FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA
Asia News, Director 
"The communist government is scared, because Christianity elevates the individual, it creates a bond among people, it fosters solidarity and helps those in need. So the government fears that Christianity will become a channel through which social revolts can gain strength.” 

For seven years, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera lived in China as a missionary priest. Now, he's the director of Asia News in Italy, where he receives news reports directly from Christian missionaries on the ground. 

The exact number of Christians in China isn't easy to come by, but a 2010 Pew survey estimates about 67 million people...and growing. Those who don't follow the rules, face consequences. 

FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA
Asia News, Director 
"There's always the possibility of being arrested, or being taken to a forced labor camp, or in the case of some bishops, they simply disappear without a trace. Without a formal accusation or court trial.” 
 
Since the communist regime failed to eliminate religion, Fr. Cervellera says, it's now opting to control it. Just last month a parish in Wenzhou known as 'China's Jerusalem' was torn down. It cost more than 4million dollars and took 12 years to build.  But the government said it violated building codes. 

FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA
Asia News, Director 
"Yes churches are destroyed even when they have a valid permit. It's a way to oppress Christians who according to communists are too free and therefore pose a threat to their regime.” 

Despite the crackdown, some experts believe that Christianity will continue to rise. By 2025 the number of Christians in China could reach up to 160 million faithful. It's proof that Christianity is based on something that communism and capitalism can't offer. 

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