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Adapting in Difficult Circumstances: Protestant Pastors and the Xi Jinping Effect


To understand the consequences of Xi Jinping’s rise, one must look down as well as up. Even in the face of increased repression, people have a say over how it unfolds and the shape it takes. Many Chinese pastors are adapting to harsher policies and new ideological narratives by striving to lessen the threat Protestantism is perceived to pose. They reduce ideological competition, by not preaching about politics, dissociating from dissidents, and supporting the China Dream; security concerns, by becoming financially self-sufficient, severing ties to missionaries, and building a Chinese church; and collective action fears, by dividing congregations, avoiding networking, and viewingsmall churches as part of God’s plan. By adjusting Protestant practice and incorporating the Party ideologies into their faith, pastors aim to show they can live with and are being steeled by repression.

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