Kevin Cooney on Religion and the Rule of Law in China
Date: September 12th, 2011

Prof. Kevin Cooney of Northwest University joins the podcast to discuss his latest trip to China where he met with several scholars to discuss religion and the rule of law.  We start out by talking about the logistics of this trip sponsored by the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity (Calvin College) and the Plowshares Institute, revealing how the trip had to be carefully planned and marketed given the sensitivity of religion in China.  We discuss why the nature of this trip was about the rule of the law and not about religious liberty per se.  Kevin then shares his experiences in China teaching English 25 years earlier and reflects upon how things have changed in the country over that time.  We then discuss the organization and operation of churches in this communist nation, shining some light on the role of religious groups in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the recent crackdown on the Shouwang Church.  We speculate why governments would want to repress churches that don’t appear to threaten the government.  Kevin shares his reflection on the demographic and spiritual characteristics of several house churches, noting that Christianity is surprisingly attractive among the young and wealthy.  He also gives a vivid portrayal of what Christians in China must do to worship on a daily basis.  We discuss the recent crackdown on the Shouwang Church and the strategic choices made by both the government and the church leaders in this confrontation.  We finish with some more general philosophical observations about religion’s role in society, the importance of freedom and whether China is on the path to further democratization.  Recorded: August 23, 2011.


Kevin Cooney’s website at Northwest University.

Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity (Calvin College).

Plowshares Institute.


Karrie Koesel on House Churches in China.

Karrie Koesel on Religion and Politics in China.

Lan Chu on Catholicism in Vietnam.

Roger Finke on Religious Persecution.


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