Earlier this year, a group of English bishops charged that the nation's Christians faced systematic discrimination that endangered their right to hold public office. Some even warned that anti-Christian hostility amounted to open persecution, which could provoke civil unrest. Pope Benedict, meanwhile, charged that new British statutes clearly violated natural law.
When the World Missionary Conference gathered in Edinburgh in 1910, it would have taken real optimism to identify Korea as a prospect for major Christian growth. Through the 20th century, though, Christian growth in Korea has been astonishing.
I was perilously close to becoming an agnostic—at least about certain statistics. Specifically, I really didn’t know the data on Christians in China, and for a while I was not sure if anyone did. Only now, perhaps, do we have the glimmerings of an answer to one of the most pressing questions in global religion: just how many Chinese Christians are there?
Philip Jenkins is professor of history at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade and The Many Faces of Christ: The Thousand-Year Story of the Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels.