A new group of Christian entrepreneurs and businessmen are emerging in China and they are introducing democratic practices into the churches, according to the Review of Religious Research (December).
Chen Cunfu and Huang Tianhai, both of Zhejiang University, write that these new professionals, who are most evident in China’s developed coastal area, are the major funders and boosters of the churches and unlike either members of the underground churches or the government-approved “patriotic churches,” have little fear of openly displaying their religious affilation.
This new type of believer, called “boss Christians,” can be either Catholic or Protestant, and they have created companies with a religious ethic and activities. For instance, the Betly Arts and Crafs Co. in Longgang is owned by a group of Christians that operates through a sales network of local Christians.
Though there is also a rising cultural and intellectual elite converting to Christianity, the boss Christians are the most instrumental in running churches, often through democratic committees that allow the participation of women and youth. A similar development of local wealthy entrepreneurs running churches along with clergy in the ethnic Chinese communities of the U.S. is also evident.
(Review of Religious Research, 618 SW Second Ave., Galva, IL 61434)