The church demolitions and forced removal of crosses in Zhejiang have received a great deal of attention both within China and in the Western media. Much of the analysis on the situation in Zhejiang has been concerned with trying to determine why these demolitions are being carried out, whether the central state is tacitly approving to them and if this is the first step in a campaign which will be extended to other provinces. This paper, however, will discuss the wider effects of events in Zhejiang on another location within the Huadong region: Huanghaicheng. Based on interviews conducted in the summer of 2014, this paper argues that the demolition of churches and church crosses is a potential catalyst for millenarian beliefs within popular Christianity. While much of the research on millenarianism has focused on specific movements, I will utilise the concept of millenarianism in this paper as a “body of underground ideas and thought which circulates in a community.” This paper analyses how the Zhejiang events have resulted in many Protestant Christians in Huanghaicheng interpreting these events as indicative of the “Last Days.” Further, this perception has been facilitated by other “signs” including the idea that environmental degradation and state support of other religious traditions as a counter against Protestantism also mean that the time for a “new Earth” is pressing. In addition, the paper will argue that the state’s approach to managing religion places an emphasis on dealing with specific groups but largely ignores the potential for a “body of underground ideas” which can be catalysed by external events. This paper will further our understanding of the potential impact which political campaigns can have on popular Christianity and what resources individual believers draw on for making sense of them.
- Three Rectification, One Demolition Campaign
- popular Christianity
- Chinese Christianity