UBC Theses and Dissertations
Protestants and the state in post-Mao China Dunch, Ryan
In 1979, the Chinese Communist Party restored its policy of freedom of religion. The intention of this policy was to bring religious movements which had spread underground under the suppression of the Maoist era back under state control. This was to be accomplished through the "patriotic religious organizations," which would be coopted institution accepting party leadership over religion. In the case of Protestants, however, this policy did not succeed in accomplishing the state's objectives, as unsupervised Protestant activities and unwelcome attempts by foreign Protestant groups to play a role in the evangelization of China persisted over the decade. These and more general factors led to a growing desire on the part of the state to strengthen control over Protestant religious activities, but the state's efforts to strengthen control served to undermine the credibility of the TSPM/CCC with Protestant believers, contributing to the failure of the strategy of cooption to unite Protestants under a single institutional structure. At the same time, Protestant leaders were becoming increasingly frustrated with the state's intrusions into religious life, and were seeking to have a sphere of autonomy for the church recognized by the state. By 1990, Protestant leaders were pressing for the state to encode the separation of church and state in law, while the state was more anxious than ever in the post-Tiananmen domestic and international climate to tighten its control over the church, and over society in general.
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