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Monday, 28 March 2016
If Jesus was alive today, would he be a member of the Chinese Communist Party?
Why many Christians in China have turned to underground churches
In this view of faith then it is easy to see why even Jesus finds himself being welcomed into the Communist fold.
Not everyone is ready to sign up, of course.
Inside a small, cramped apartment, a group of 10 people studies the Bible and sings hymns.
This is one of the hundreds of unofficial "home" churches in the city of Beijing. Attendees run the constant risk of harassment, and sometimes detention, by the authorities.
Xu Yonghai, leading the prayers today, has served a number of jail terms.
"Official churches are in fact just political institutes," he says. "It is impossible for us to leave Jesus and follow the Party."
In many ways, even the "home" churches have much more freedom than would have been imaginable 40 years ago.
And as with many things in China, cycles of repression and relative relaxation, come and go.
But with the Party's recent emphasis on making religion "compatible with the country's path of socialism" some fear that the room for freedom of worship is about to become even smaller.
So too will the possibility of religion acting as a critical, independent voice of conscience in modern day China.
"I choose to lead a Christian life within the law," Pastor Wu from the official church in Beijing says.
"I certainly will not do what the government does not allow me to do, let's say, preach the gospel in the subway to cause a lot of people to come to me and as a result the street or the road gets blocked."
For a government whose overriding concern is the prevention of mass gathering and unrest, it is the perfect, text-book answer.
Chairman Mao may have failed to destroy the church, but the modern Communist Party has gone one better, it has succeeded in co-opting it.