China prints 125 millionth Bible despite curbs on Christians, says report
Atheist China has just published its 125 millionth copy of the Bible at the world's biggest printing factory of the good book, Britain's Financial Times reported November 7.
The Bible factory is based in Nanjing and run by the government-sanctioned Amity Foundation in conjunction with the Bible Society.
The FT said it has produced more than 65 million Bibles in 10 different Chinese languages since 1987 for local Christians, and more than 59 million in 90 other languages to send to other countries.
China is officially an atheist State, but its constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief to those who worship within government-sanctioned organizations.
The FT cited official figures ascribing fewer than 30 million people in the country as Christians, but the newspaper said but more credible independent estimates put the number of Catholics and Protestants in the country at about 100 million.
The Chinese Communist party which still has a tight grip on the country has 86.7 million members, but the newspaper quoted experts as saying China is expected to have the world's biggest Christian population within 15 years.
OPEN DOORS WORLD WATCH LIST
Open Doors World Watch List, however, has China as the 37th worst country in the world for Christian persecution and Christians often report churches being torn down.
The Communist Party is thought to be stepping up its defences against Christianity, Christian Today reported.
It said that in the past few months it has targeted over 300 churches, with many having their crosses removed and some being forcefully demolished.
UK-based Christian Today quoted Bob Fu, an ex-underground church pastor and founder of China Aid, saying, "We are seeing the worst persecution in China since the Cultural Revolution."
"There has been forced demolition, the removal of crosses, over 300 churches have been attacked and government sanctioned church pastors sentenced to 12 years in prison.
"Multiple believers have been attacked and hospitalised, and thousands of police were mobilised to attack a church. That has not been seen since the time of the Cultural Revolution. It's overwhelming," he said.
Fu is, however "very optimistic" about the long-term future of Chinese Christians, and says the latest increased persecution is likely to lead to "a new wave of Church growth" in China.
"The attacks have been barbaric...but on the other hand, the communist party has not learnt its lessons. When it took power in 1949, there were less than one million Christians. After 60 years of non-stop persecution, look at it now."
The FT reported that despite frequent reported harassment of Christians, reports suggest that between 3,000 and 10,000 people are turning to Christianity every day.
It noted that there were just one million believers when the Communist party came to power in 1949, there are now thought to be as many as 100 million.
The newspaper quoted Qiu Zhonghui, chairman of the Amity Bible Printing Company as saying, "As China opened up to the world [starting in the early 1980s] most people were focused on improving their basic living level, getting clothing and enough to eat, as everyone was poor.
"Once people reach a certain living standard they start looking for spiritual fulfilment and that's why we see so much demand for Christianity in China – the meaning of life becomes important once you have enough money to survive."
The Amity Bible printing company head noted that that many in the West believe the Chinese government to have banned Bibles, but the China Christian Council distributes the book around the country.