Religion in China undergoing massive change, says new journal editor

By staff writers
23 Mar 2007

The growth of Christianity among intellectuals has fundamentally “reshaped the religious landscape in China”, says a leading Chinese academic and Editor of what is being described as the “most authoritative” journal on religion in the People’s Republic of China.

Edmond Tang, from the University of Birmingham, is Editor of the new-look China Study Journal which will be launched by CTBI on Monday 26 March. The journal has been published for a number of years, and emerged from the former China Study Project of the British Council of Churches - now Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

CTBI's China department has played a key role among the British and Irish churches in promoting positive relations with the Protestant and Catholic Churches in China, including regular delegations, exchanges and support for education and other projects.

Edmond Tang commented: “Today it is an open secret that Christian fellowships – a new kind of 'house church', run by Chinese professors and students, are active in most Chinese universities. More than 30 academic faculties and research centres are devoted to the study of a once maligned religion. The question is why.”

However, he adds: “It is not enough today just to document what is happening on the ground. It is equally important, if not more so, to know what people are thinking religiously, and how that relates to the moral and spiritual questions that are debated by the educated Chinese. This is where the real heartbeat of a new China can be found.”

The relaunched China Study Journal will be presented at a 13.15 media conference on 26 March by Canon Janice Price, Executive Secretary of CTBI's Global Mission Network, and by the Rt Rev David Urquhart, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Episcopal Link to China.

Bishop Urquhart said: “It can be very hard to find and source accurate information about life and the Church in China. This journal provides an invaluable and authoritative link and will be of immense value to a wide cross-section of people.”

The China Study Journal is an initiative of the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland China Desk, headed up by Caroline Fielder, which cooperates with the Department of Theology at University of Birmingham.

The publication has its roots in a research project begun in the 1970s at the height of the Cultural Revolution, a period when China was cut off from the outside world, when churches and other religious organizations in China were forbidden, and when religious persecution was rife. To that end, and now in its third decade, the journal provides what experts and observers have called "unparalleled information" about life and religious freedoms in the China.

The new style journal is divided into two sections. The first provides in depth analysis of current religious policy and includes empirical studies of grassroots rural and urban Christianity, developments in Sino-Christianity theology, and reports on other religions in contemporary Chinese society. The second section reproduces shorter, timely news articles, highlighting key issues of relevance.

The relaunched China Study Journal will be produced twice a year and will be available from April 2007. Annual subscription rates are £65 (institutional) and £45 (individual). Information on subscriptions can be obtained from: china.desk@ctbi.org.uk

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