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Li Fan, a secular liberal writer, told me, “Christianity has probably become China’s largest nongovernmental organization.” China’s ethnic and religious politics are drifting toward a crisis.Three times in six months, militant Uighur Muslims have attacked Chinese civilians, most recently on April 30, in an assault at a busy train station that was one of China’s first suicide bombings.For new sources of meaning, Chinese citizens are looking not only to religion but also to philosophy, psychology, and literature for new ways of orienting themselves in a world of ideological incoherence and unrelenting competition.
The leaders of the People’s Republic and their ethnic minorities have rarely been farther from a peaceful resolution.
Palmer describe as the “most thorough destruction of all forms of religious life in Chinese and, perhaps, human history.” But they also deified Mao.
As testaments to devotion, men and women collected Mao badges to wear over their hearts that hailed him as “Messiah of the Working People” and the “Great Savior.” People confessed their sins at the foot of his statues.
The prospect that China will make a wholesale turn toward Western religion has never seemed likely outside the reveries of the true believers.
History suggests that China is more inclined to absorb the most useful parts of Western faiths and philosophies and discard the rest, as it had with Marxism, capitalism, and other imports.