In "The China President Obama Didn't See," an intriguing comment on Obama's recent trip to communist China, Leslie Hook in the Wall Street Journal muses upon why the Chinese government is so fearful of "unregistered" churches.
Chinese and foreign observers alike believe the number of Chinese belonging to underground churches may now exceed 100 million people. That figure has grown rapidly as more and more Chinese, particularly well-educated city dwellers, turn away from Communist Party atheism. [emphasis added]
Life has never been easy for the underground churches, and recently it has gotten a lot harder. This is the result, according to the Christian charity group China Aid, of a state directive handed down in August. Why do China's powerful leaders fear these churches, most of which steer clear of politics? It may be that they have grown increasingly paranoid about the political power of religion given the unrest they have faced in Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang. Or it could be because dissident intellectuals, such as jailed human-rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, have sometimes tended toward Christianity. [emphasis added]
As a questioning and free-thinking human being who affirms the philosophic and reality-oriented answers given in the Judeo-Christian worldview to the basic questions of existence raised by life in a challenging universe -- answers superior to those offered by secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism, and so on (and superior, by the way, to that fragmentation that passes for political liberalism these days) -- one can appreciate in some small measure why "well-educated city dwellers" and "dissident intellectuals" are attracted to Christianity.
As a person religiously committed to god-talk secularism, Mr. Obama seems blessedly ignorant of the vibrancy and intellectual strength of the historic Judeo-Christian worldview here in the United States. So I suppose, in this respect, it is hardly unexpected that he misses it abroad in the land of Mao.
Upshot for Mr. Obama and the Chinese: The next few years may hold a few surprises for him, them, and like-minded people of secular faith.