It is no secret that China’s leaders have officially delayed the once-imminent arrival of socialist utopia and accepted that religion can continue in the meantime. But Christianity’s place in Chinese society remains complex and multifaceted. At the same time that underground Roman Catholic seminaries were being closed in Inner Mongolia in 2012, Christians in other provinces were being elected to municipal positions. Christian churches flourish in many places, while official speeches hint at the limits of tolerance.
Chloë Starr teaches at Yale Divinity School. She recently coedited Documenting China: A Reader in Seminal Twentieth-Century Texts. She has been studying Chinese Christianity with support from the Henry Luce Foundation.