Christianity in China

The man who owns the industrial valve company makes no secret of his religious faith: He’s a committed Christian. Once a week, he gathers together his senior staffers for prayer. Employees are invited to attend Bible studies on the premises and pray for one another’s needs.

The factory owner is also quite open about another fact: When it comes to hiring, he would choose Christians over non-Christians every time—because he thinks they make better workers.

You may think this company is located in South Carolina—but you’d be wrong. It’s in southeastern China. The company is exhibit “A” for the argument, backed up by social researchers, that Christian faith is responsible for much of China’s productivity.

A faithful BreakPoint listener alerted me to an article from the BBC, written by Christopher Landau. Landau reports that the valve company’s owner, Weng-Jen Wau, believes that the more Christian employees he has, the better his business will prosper.

“If you’re a Christian you’re more honest, with a better heart,” Wau says. And if they do something wrong, “they feel guilty—that’s the difference,” he notes.

An employee at Wau’s factory agreed. “If everybody became a Christian,” he said, “it would have a very big impact, and would really help the development of our factory.”

Wau and his employees are not alone in believing this. The Chinese government is studying the impact of Christian entrepreneurs and Christian-run businesses. A professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told Landau that it’s clear to him that the growth of Christianity and economic prosperity are taking place simultaneously in Wenzhou—a city deeply influenced by Christian missionaries in the past.

An American sociologist named Rodney Stark would not be surprised at this finding: He’s been saying the same thing for years. Stark is the author of a wonderful book titled the Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success.

Stark writes that without Christianity’s commitment to “reason, progress, and moral equality . . . today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800.” This would be a world “lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos”—not to mention scientists.

Amazingly enough, at the end of his book, Stark quotes a published statement by Chinese scholars, who said they had no doubt that Christianity is the source of Western prosperity! “The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life,” they said, “was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics.”

For some time I’ve been saying that America’s economic collapse was the result of a moral and ethical collapse—and the abandonment of Christian principles in public life. I find it amazing that a Chinese factory owner can understand this, but our business, academic, and political elites cannot.

The simultaneous rise of Christian faith and economic success in China is just one piece of evidence that worldview matters. And that the Christian worldview, above all others, allows us to thrive in—and make sense of—the world we live in.

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  • It’s a reality like this, now being acknowledged by the Chinese Communists of all people, that makes me extremely wary of nation-building experiments in non-Christian countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. I question whether such nations have the moral foundation for democracy to flourish.

  • No, I would not assume this story was from South Carolina or any other US state. I would assume it was Mars. Back here in the US, we are supposed to keep our faith out of our schools, government and employment. It is best practiced in secret, as long as it does not impact our public statements or actions. Were an employer to act as depicted in this story, he or she would quickly be facing lawsuits led by the ACLU and a federal discrimination investigation by the Justice Department.

    Ironic how we are exchanging places with Communist China. They are moving in the direction of religious freedom while we increasingly oppress it. They are increasingly embracing capitalism while we are embracing socialism. How disappointed Americans of 50 years ago be of us now.

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