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Is China’s ‘underground church’ making Jesus more popular than Mao on Twitter?

Is the underground church in China ruling the Chinese twitter universe? Photo Tiananmen Square China Wikipedia/Derzsi Elekes Andor

Is China’s Underground Church ruling the Chinese twitter universe? Photo Tienanmen Square China Wikipedia/Derzsi Elekes Andor

Well it is not exactly Twitter, it’s Weibo which is the Chinese-sanctioned version of Twitter.

According to an analysis of activity on Weibo, by Tea Leaf Nation, Jesus is tweeted more times than Mao Zedong the founder of Chinese communism and famous for his “Little Red Book” of quotes, ready-made for Weibo.

It appears Chinese censors (estimated at 100,000) are now allowing more religious tweets on Weibo. In the past, censors deleted religious tweets.

The president of China — Xi Jinping — is mentioned daily in the Chinese press. During the testing period at the beginning of April, he received 4 million weibies compared to Jesus who received 18 million. Jesus is rarely mentioned in the Chinese press.

The Bible similarly pulled in 17 million weibies, compared to Mao’s “Little Red Book” that only mustered 60,000.

Christian congregations at 41 million mentions, out-pulled the Chinese Communist party’s 5.3 million.

Though the censors are allowing more religious tweets, they are still stopping any mention of China’s large “underground church.” Tea Leaf did not find a single mention, which suggests censors are deleting any tweets that mention the group.

How many Christians are there in China?

in 2010, the Chinese government — via its Academy of Social Sciences — estimated there were 23 million Christians in China. However, a survey conducted by Dr. Yanga Fenggang of Purdue University that same year, said it was closer to 33 million (30 million protestants, 3 million Catholics). A 2011 survey by Pew Forum a research and survey group said the number was 67 million.

The discrepancy is due largely in estimates on the size of the Chinese underground church.

The Chinese Underground Church

There are two versions of the Church in China, the officially sanctioned church that is allowed to own buildings. These churches must register with one of three organizations such as the Three-self Patriotic Movement

The leaders of these organizations are approved and many times appointed by the Communist Party. The officially registered churches are often used as a propaganda platform.

The second group of Christians is found in the House Church movement that exists largely via house meetings. At times, it has been heavily persecuted by the communists. It is generally believed the bulk of Chinese Christians are found in this movement.

In 2010, the Chinese government declared the House Church movement a cult, the same year it released its calculation of 23 million Christians in the country. They may have purposely not included any estimates on the number of House Church Christians because of this designation.

However the underground church’s popularity remains undaunted. The funeral for Pastor Lin Xiango (English name Samuel Lamb) leader of the House Church movement in Guangzhou (formerly Canton) — capital of Guangdon province in Southeast China — in August 2013 attracted tens of thousands of mourners.

In an interview with South China Morning Post, a spokesperson for the funeral home said:

“There are nearly 30,000 people here today. I have been working here for 10 years and have never seen anything like this before. Even the funeral procession for Guangdon’s former [party chief] did not attract such a turnout.”

Lamb gained notoriety in 1958, when the government sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment for not registering his house church. As soon as the government released Lamb, he started another house church which by the time he died had grown in size to 5,000 people — a mega-house church — it was actually meeting in a rented building

His movement was harassed, leaders arrested and thrown in jail until about 1998, when the government backed off.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Is New York City discriminating against Christians? | Christian Heritage News

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