Why is China only 2.3% Christian?


Why, after nearly 2,000 years, are there so few Christians in China?

And do you think those numbers will change substantially in 100 years time or even before the coming of Christ in his glory?

I’m also interested in India, too, if someone wants to address those same questions for India.



Part of the reason is that Christians are treated so horribly in China. Pastors are abducted, church doors are locked, and the “official” Catholic Church in China is run by the government. If someone isn’t already Christian, they might feel that there is no benefit for them to be one.

Aside from that, just as in Japan, the culture makes it so that the people generally aren’t even open to hearing about the Faith.


China has about 1.4 billion people, so 2.3% is actually pretty good.


I heard China - only allowed one child per household to be born -
or something like that - or the government stepped in -
I’m not sure how gruesome things are - but it cant be pretty over there.


Government repression is a big reason.


It used to be 0%. So… progress?

China is a very insulated country in a lot of ways. But christianity used to be a small minority religion in any place on earth at one point or another.


Ethnic attachment to Buddhism and relatively recent state-enforced atheism are your big answers.


Thoughts on India?


India has over 22 officially recognized languages. I imagine that makes evangelization difficult.


I want to say now it’s 2 allowed unless the first was a boy, but I’m not certain so don’t quote me on it. I have studied china’s political system and philosophy for Political Science and I will say a vast majority of it is their government actively suppresses the creation, spread, and implementation of ideas. Bit like George Orwell’s 1984 if you ask me.

Not to mention their very culture and way of life is engrained in more eastern, non-traditional religious practices


Similar issues with India although Christianity has a longer history there. From what I understand India is an enormously religiously diverse place, so the forces at work are a lot different than China. A lot of India is pretty traditionalist and rooted in a Hindu framework that is pretty antithetical to Christianity and is built around enforcing strict hierarchies. Under Christianity everyone is fundamentally equal but under traditional Hinduism everyone is definitely not created equal, and if you dont follow Hinduism you are very low on that totem pole. So it takes a lot of courage to make the jump out of that framework. But Christianity also has a lot of potential there as the message of equality can resound very strongly with people who are looked down on in their society, similar to how christianity has a strong connection to American racial civil rights. Mother Theresa exemplified this potential quite well, in my opinion, and is one of the first of many.

I think Christianity has a strong future in India. One of the pitfalls is that it is in many ways seen as a white persons religion there. But once it gets over that, it will spread like a wildfire. “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, etc. are teachings practically designed to specifically counter traditional Hindu sentiment which declares poverty a punishment for the sins of a past life.


India has an attachment to Hinduism that somewhat mirrors the Jewish attachment to Judaism.

The religion (maybe the worlds oldest) was born and evolved there. It features heroes they descended from. It’s a fundamental part of Indian identity - probably more important to most there than the concept of being Indian.


China has been inward-looking for the past several thousand years. Being open to non-native cultural, social, political, and religious influences is a relatively recent experience for the Chinese. For most Chinese, it’s not only Catholicism that was unknown, but the vast majority of everything else about the outside world.

Further, for most of its recent, “open” history, China has been controlled by a Communist government: officially atheist and determined to stomp out any influence that might draw the population to look elsewhere for guidance.

Do I think it will change over the next 100 years? No. Major shifts in Chinese culture will be toward a powerful, competing religion: Capitalism. Capitalism and Western religion (e.g. Catholicism) aren’t antithetical to one another, but Capitalism is a lot easier to worship if religion isn’t hamstringing it.


Very true, I think China will unfortunately be the last major place on earth for christianity to really take hold. But they are moving towards a more free system, slowly but surely. The Soviet Union seemed like it would go on forever in some ways but then boom in just a few years it collapsed. The region still has a lot of problems but at least Christians aren’t officially persecuted there much anymore. Who knows, maybe in 20 years the Chinese power structure will collapse and people will be looking for a more powerful meaning to their lives.


English is the most common school language in India so people from different states speak English when they meet. Even spouses if they don’t have a common language they grew up speaking.


Would you say that English is more a universal language in India than Hindi?


The one child per family rule was between 1979-2005 in China. They have a big problem now with a lot of young men not finding a wife as a lot of girls were aborted when the ultrasound examinations became common and of higher quality to see the sex of the baby.

There were missionaries going to China and Japan in the 16th century and there are still those who can trace their roots to those missionaries. Many of the Christians in China left the country when the cultural revolution started and moved all over the world.


The Catholics from India in my parish were all taught in English when they went to school. Hindi is one official language (of 22) but no language has national status as the language spoken.


The government repressing the freedom to practice it doesn’t help.


Although accurate numbers are difficult to obtain, most recent reliable estimates put the Christian Chinese population at about 60 - 70 million, or more like 5% to 7%. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in China. Praise God!!

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