China: Prayers and Growth

( [email protected] ) Mar 08, 2004 09:22 AM EST

According to a Hong-Kong based human rights group, Beijing authorities deployed over 1,000 police officers across the city to stifle the voice of activist groups – namely, underground Christians, to keep the peace as the National People’s Congress began its new session early February.

Since then, several house church leaders reportedly have been beaten, arrested and robbed by officials. The Chinese government recognizes only government-sanctioned Christian and Catholic churches; such Christians are prohibited from preaching, seeking assistance from foreign churches and from proselytizing.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government began constructing the nation’s first two government-funded chapels to accommodate the grouping number of Christian worshippers. Government figures report 25 million Chinese Christians and Catholics as registered in state-approved churches. However, experts say there are an additional 40-80 million underground church worshippers; some believe China will adopt Christianity as its main religion within 50 years.

The above pictures show the earnest faith of several Chinese women praying at a government sanctioned Catholic Church in Shanghai, March 8.