Karrie Koesel on House Churches in China
Date: June 6th, 2011
Professor Karrie Koesel – assistant professor of political science at the University of Oregon – returns to Research on Religion with an update on her recent research on “house churches” in China. That research was sponsored by a grant from the Templeton Foundation’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative managed by Dr. Don Miller at the University of Southern California. While conducting fieldwork in China during the fall of 2010, Prof. Koesel had the opportunity to interact and learn about various house churches in the country. She discusses what a “house church” is, how they are organized, and the wide variety of theological styles found within that rather large movement. We talk about this in the context of a regime that gives official sanction to five different churches (the “red market”), and what it means to be part of the “gray” or “black market” religious scene in China. Karrie makes the interesting observation that while leaders from house churches were often sent to labor camps for operating illegally, their presence in these camps allowed them, ironically, to recruit new adherents and grow. The Chinese government has since then responded by using “indirect pressure” to force these churches out of business or to associate with officially sanctioned groups such as the Three Self Patriotic Movement. Prof. Koesel then argues that the organizational strategies and tactics employed by clandestine “house churches” were very similar to the same methods employed by the Chinese Communist Party prior to the 1949 revolution. We also talk about the challenges and difficulties associated with doing research on underground movements. Finally, the podcast ends with some speculation as to how these “house churches” (and other religious revival groups) will affect Chinese society and politics in the near future. Recorded: May 25, 2011.
Karrie Koesel’s website.
Templeton Foundation’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Initiative.
Religion in American History: A Group Blog on American Religious History and Culture. (A special thanks for directing traffic our way!)
Karrie Koesel on Religion & Politics in China.
Roger Finke on Religious Persecution.
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