Ian Johnson

The forceful removal of crosses at churches and the arrest of Christians have hit of Western media regularly. But that is not the big picture, says journalist Ian Johnson, author of the upcoming book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, at CNN. Those government actions are mainly symbolic, he says.


Hundreds of Christians have also been detained or arrested attempting to resist those demolitions, ChinaAid said.

As the larger of the Christian denominations in China, Freedom House said Protestants had been “particularly affected by cross-removal and church-demolition campaigns, punishment of state-sanctioned leaders, and the arrest of human rights lawyers who take up Christians’ cases.”

However, Ian Johnson, author of new book “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao,” said the focus on the cross removal misses the big picture.

“I’d say that the most important point is that virtually none of these churches have been closed,” he said in a piece for CNN Opinion.

“All continue to have worshipers and services just like before. In addition, the campaign never spread beyond the one province. Some pessimists see it as a precursor for a campaign that might spread nationally, but so far that hasn’t happened and there is no indication it will.”

More at CNN.

The full CNN opinion piece is here.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.

Ian Johnson will be on a book tour in the US and China in April and May. Check here for the details.

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