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Colonialism, Communism and Christianity: the Change of Religious Ecology in China

Thursday Lecture Series

dateSeptember 20, 2012 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

Dr. Sun’s talk sought to explain the explosive growth of Protestant Christianity in post-Mao China. While acknowledging the important roles that Protestant groups’ institutional features played in this growth, she argued that an analysis of the institutional features of the Protestant groups alone cannot provide an adequate explanation. In this talk, she provided an analysis of how the Maoist state and the post-Mao state have created and shaped social conditions that allowed some institutional features of Protestantism to facilitate a growth rate historically unprecedented for this religion in Chinese society. The findings show that the effect of institutional features is contingent on the sociopolitical environment in which the religious group is situated and that the state is the most powerful actor in creating and shaping this environment.