Home » Have China’s Christians Peaked? Pew Researches the Data Debate

Have China’s Christians Peaked? Pew Researches the Data Debate

New report examines the challenges of measuring religion among Chinese Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, and other beliefs.

Christianity’s growth in China has stalled since 2010.

That’s according to a new Pew Research Center report measuring religion in China published today. In 2010, approximately 23.2 million adults in China self-identified as Christian. In 2018, 19.9 million adults did so, which Pew researchers say is not a “statistically significant gap.”

Among Chinese Christians, the percentages of zongjiao (Mandarin for “organized religion”) activity have also stagnated. Nearly 40 percent (38%) of Christians said they engaged in such activities once a week in 2010, but that figure dipped slightly to 35 percent in 2018.

“Some scholars have relied on a mix of fieldwork studies, claims by religious organizations, journalists’ observations and government statistics to suggest that China is experiencing a surge of religion and is perhaps even on a path to having a Christian majority by 2050,” the Pew report stated.

But more than a decade’s worth of data from surveys conducted in China provide “no clear confirmation of rising levels of religious identity in China, at least not as embodied by formal zongjiao (宗教) affiliation and worship attendance.”

Pew published its previous report on religion in China in May 2008 ahead of the Beijing Olympics. While that study did not touch on the rate of growth of the Christian faith in the country, it acknowledged the presence of “indirect survey evidence” that suggested a “potentially large number of unaffiliated, independent Christians.”

Its latest report highlighted statistics from the Chinese government that appeared promising at first glance as the number of Protestants in the country jumped from 700,000 to 38 million …

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