John Micklethwait: China Will Be the Biggest Christian Nation

By mid-century there could be over 200 million Chinese Christians.

Until just 30 years ago, religion was banned in China, and today atheism remains the country's official religion. But growing numbers of Chinese are embracing Christianity, a phenomenon that could soon give the country the largest Christian population on the planet.

It's unclear exactly how many Christians there are in China, but NPR reported recently that some surveys suggest there are as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants—giving the faith a bigger base than China's ruling communist party. Ten thousand Chinese reportedly become Christians each day according to the National Catholic Reporter, and by mid-century there could be over 200 million Chinese Christians.

John Micklethwait, the editor of The Economist, told Big Think in 2009 that he believes China will become the world’s biggest Christian country relatively quickly, creating an interesting dynamic between the country's religious population and its political regime.

In one sense, the Chinese regime is prepared to encourage religions like Christianity: "They’re looking in a sense for glue to bring this huge country together," says Micklethwait. But the government hasn't entirely shed its distrust of organized religion. For instance, there is a rule that no meeting can go beyond 25 people without government approval. This is, ironically, forcing the number of churches in the country to multiply rapidly as congregations split and re-form as soon as they acquire too many members.

More Resources

— "Christianity Finds a Fulcrum in Asia," Asia Times (August, 2007)

— "Jesus in China," PBS Frontline (June, 2008)

— "In The Land Of Mao, A Rising Tide Of Christianity," NPR (July, 2010)

The Center for Religion in Chinese Society

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less