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In 1949, when the Communists took power, less than 1% of the population had been baptised, most of them Catholics.
Now the largest, fastest-growing number of Christians belong to Protestant “house churches”.
House churches are small congregations who meet privately—usually in apartments—to worship away from the gaze of the Communist Party.
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Heads turn towards the display and sing along: “Glory, Glory Glory; Holy, Holy, Holy; God is near to each one of us.” It is Sunday morning, and worship is beginning in one of thousands of house churches across China.
In a suburb of Shanghai, off Haining Road, neighbours peer warily across the hallway as visitors file into a living room, bringing the number to 25, the maximum gathering allowed by law without official permission.
Inside, young urban professionals sit on sofas and folding chairs.
Catholic ones are kept under closer scrutiny, reflecting China's tense relationship with the Vatican.
ZHAO XIAO, a former Communist Party official and convert to Christianity, smiles over a cup of tea and says he thinks there are up to 130m Christians in China. The government says there are 21m (16m Protestants, 5m Catholics).
Unofficial figures, such as one given by the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in Massachusetts, put the number at about 70m. A study of China by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an American think-tank, says indirect survey evidence suggests many unaffiliated Christians are not in the official figures.
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