Churches in China

Church I went out for a bike ride today (26km / 16mi) and took my camera along.  I made a whole lot of stupid mistakes with the camera, but I managed to get a couple pictures that might be okay.

One that I did get is this photo of the church to the north of town.  I go past it’s on all the time, but I haven’t gone down and actually looked at it until today.  It’s a very pretty church, with some nice, simple statuary.   There was a group of old people working on the lawn and garden while I was there.

There are a lot of misconceptions about religion in China.

No, there is no “freedom of religion” as we in the USA know it.  Yes, there are restrictions on religion.  Most of those, however, tend to be about politics, not religion.   If the church is talking about “love thy neighbor” and “feed the poor”, that’s okay.  If it starts taking about “rights and freedoms”, and speaking out against the government, that’s where it runs into trouble.  And, of course, because the churches have no legal protection, they’re often at the mercy of local officials.

I’ve met quite a few Christians while I’ve been here. They’re open about it, but don’t show it off.  You might see a tiny gold cross on a necklace, but that’s about it.    There are a lot of Muslims here, too.  I wanted to get photos of the mosque that’s near the church, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to it.

The Muslims, also, are open about their religion, but not blatant.  You’ll see the men wearing the “Takiya” (a round, flat-topped hat) and women wearing the “hijab” (scarf), so it’s obvious that they’re religious.

The people I’ve talked to mention their religion in an off-hand and low-key manner.  It’s not a big deal for them like it is for many Americans.

That being said, most of the people are atheist.  It’s always interesting trying to teach them about religious references.   The idiom “The Devil’s in the details” first requires that I teach them who “the Devil” is.  🙂   I’m used to people who don’t believe in God, but it’s strange being somewhere that people have no basic information about religious beliefs, customs, traditions, or the influence of the Bible on our language.

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