Multiple modernizations, religious regulations and church responses : the rise and fall of three “Jerusalems” in communist China.
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There is an extensive literature on modernization, regulation and religious change from a global perspective. However, China is usually understudied by the scholars. Numerous studies tackle the puzzle of the rising of Christianity and its implications in China. However they fail to synthesize the multiple dynamics and diverse regional difference. This dissertation approaches the development of Christianity in contemporary China from a regional perspective. By doing a case study on twelve churches in three prefecture cities (Guangzhou, Wenzhou and Nanyang), I examine how different historical processes and factors interacted to shape the uneven development of Christianity under the communist rule. The main research questions are: How did Protestantism survive, transform and flourish under a resilient communism regime? What factors account for the regional variance of the transformation of Christianity? I argue that there are multiple modernizations in China, and they created various cultural frames in the regions. Although the party-state tried to eliminate religion, Protestantism not only survived, but transformed and revived in the Cultural Revolution, which laid the foundation for momentum growth in the reform era. The development of Protestantism in China is dynamic, path-dependent, and contingent on specific settings. Different modernizations, religious regulation, historical legacy and church responses led to the rise and fall of three “Jerusalems” in communist China.