This paper examines the rise of a group of affluent urban Christians in the post-Mao market transition to shed light on China's church-state relations in the reform era. Based on ethnographic data collected in Wenzhou, the most Christianized Chinese city and a pioneer in developing China's current market economy, this study portrays how local believers, many of whom are private entrepreneurs, engage postsocialist state power. It shows that these Christian entrepreneurs actively seek the state's recognition and renegotiate the boundaries of religion and politics in the context of development. They have adopted their modem capitalist cultural logic in the production, management and consumption of religious activities. Adding to the post-Weberian literature on religion and capitalism, this paper argues that regional capitalist development enabled by post-Mao reforms has largely depoliticized and promoted local practices of faith. Challenging the unidirectional view of China's church-state relations that focuses on state dominance and church resistance, this paper also contributes to a reconceptualization of Chinese Christian studies.
|Journal||Sociology of Religion|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|