Review of Religion and Chinese Society



Launched in 2014, Review of Religion and Chinese Society is an international peer-reviewed journal publishes articles and book reviews in the social sciences and certain humanities disciplines. All articles will be in English, and Chinese titles and abstracts will also be provided. RRCS is published by Brill Publishers.


“Religion” is understood in the broadest sense, including various spiritual and meaning-making systems of beliefs and practices.
“Chinese society” includes those in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Chinese diaspora communities in Asia, North America, Europe, and elsewhere throughout the world. The journal also welcomes studies that compare religion in Chinese and other societies.


RRCS is multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary in its outlook and presents theoretical and empirical studies of religion in disciplines such as anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology, and history. Preferred articles are theory-driven, empirical studies, although the journal also publishes articles that are primarily empirical or theoretical.

The journal publishes reviews of books that have been published in English, Chinese, and other languages. It may also publish review essays of particular fields, symposia of particular topics, interviews with renowned scholars, and reports of academic conferences relevant to the journal’s themes.
Article submissions and proposals for special issues are welcome.

Editorial Board

Editor in Chief:
Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology and Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society
Purdue University, USA


Associate Editors:
Ryan Dunch, Professor and Chair of East Asian Studies
University of Alberta, Canada

André Laliberté, Professor of Political Science
University of Ottawa, Canada

David Palmer, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology
The University of Hong Kong

Jonathan E. Pettit, Assistant Professor of Chinese Religion
University of Hawaii, USA
Book Review Editor:
Chris White, Assistant Director of Center on Religion and Chinese Society
Purdue University, USA
Editorial Board:
Hsing-kuang Chao (Tunghai University, Taiwan)
Adam Chau (Cambridge University, UK)
Kenneth Dean (McGill University, Canada)
Stephen Feuchtwang (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
Shining Gao (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China)
Vincent Goossaert (CNRS-EPHE, France)
Zhe Ji (INALCO, France)
Xiangping Li (East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Xi Lian (Duke University, USA)
Richard Madsen (University of California, San Diego, USA)
Anna Sun (Kenyon College, Ohio, USA)
Michael Szonyi (Harvard University, USA)
Yen-zen Tsai (Chengchi University, Taiwan)
Carsten Vala (Loyola University Maryland, USA)
David Wank (Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan)
Robert Weller (Boston University, USA)
Mei-hui Mayfair Yang (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA)
Fuk-tsang Ying (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Volume 5, Issue 1 (2018)


The Cross of Chinese Christians and Their Resistance to Suppression / Fenggang Yang


Research Articles

The Failure of the Campaign to Demolish Church Crosses in Zhejiang Province, 2013–2016, A Temporal and Spatial Analysis / Fenggang Yang
In 2013, the Zhejiang government initiated a campaign to demolish church crosses (DCC) throughout the province in the name of landscape improvement. In April 2016, the campaign was abruptly and quietly halted. The termination of the campaign was primarily due to unremitting resistance by Christians in Zhejiang. This article provides a temporal and spatial analysis of the DCC campaign that reveals multiple failures on the part of the Zhejiang authorities, including missing several self-imposed deadlines to remove all church crosses in the province, inconsistently implementing the campaign in various regions, and causing the breakdown of the bridging mechanism between Christian churches and the party-state. The failure of the DCC campaign is an important empirical case for studies of religion and Chinese society. It indicates that the church-state equilibrium in China may be approaching a tipping point.


Mutual Accommodation in the Church-State Relationship in China? A Case Study of the Sanjiang Church Demolition in Zhejiang / Zhidong Hao and Yan Liu
The campaign of church demolitions and cross removals in Zhejiang from 2013 to 2016 has revealed some uneasiness in the religion-state relationship in China. The party-state has had a policy of “mutual accommodation” since the 1990s, and the official churches are good examples of such accommodation. But the demolition of Sanjiang Church shows the limits of the policy. In this case study, we argue that mutual accommodation between the two sides is still possible but constrained by two factors: the broad political and policy structure, and the individuals involved in the interaction between church and state. This case study helps to shed some light on an issue that has a far-reaching effect on sociopolitical change in China


The Politics of Cross Demolition: A Religio-Political Analysis of the “Three Rectifications and One Demolition” Campaign in Zhejiang Province / Fuk-Tsang Ying
From March to December 2014, various Wenzhou churches were affected by the unprecedented destruction wrought during the initial execution of the cross-demolition campaign. Subsequently, this campaign extended from Wenzhou to cities like Ningbo, Taizhou, Lishui, and Hangzhou before returning to Wenzhou in July 2015. This article centers on Wenzhou, where authorities removed at least four hundred crosses from churches. It investigates whether the reasons offered for demolishing illegal buildings justify cross demolition, examines the role of the religious factor in the overall campaign, and determines whether the Zhejiang provincial leader attempted to tackle religio-related problems under the guise of demolishing illegal buildings. This article places the cross-demolition campaign in the context of church-state relations and analyzes it from a religion-political perspective.


Chinese Protestant Reactions to the Zhejiang “Three Rectifications, One Demolition” Campaign / Mark McLeister
This paper analyzes the wider effects of church demolitions and cross removals in Zhejiang on another location within the Huadong region. Based on fieldwork conducted in 2014 and 2015, this paper argues that the demolition of churches and church crosses is a potential catalyst for millenarian beliefs within popular Christianity. Much of the research on millenarianism has focused on specific movements. However, this paper utilizes the concept of millenarianism as a “body of underground ideas and thought which circulates in a community” and argues that the Zhejiang events have heightened millenarian beliefs within the Huanghaicheng Protestant community and resulted in an interpretation of these events as indicating that the “Last Days” are imminent. This perception has been facilitated by other “signs.” This paper furthers our understanding of the potential impact that political campaigns can have on popular Christianity and what resources individual believers draw on for making sense of them.


“Double-Burdened Mothers”: A Narrative Inquiry Concerning Women Pastors in Contemporary Protestant Churches in Mainland China / Duan Hua
Since its reopening in the late 1970s, the Protestant Church (including both registered and unregistered churches) in mainland China has experienced rapid growth characterized by three conspicuous phenomena: extreme gender disproportion, increased numbers of young intellectual and white-collar converts, and growing numbers of women pastors. In this narrative study conducted between May 2016 and May 2017, the researcher interviewed eight women pastors in Protestant churches in W Province to understand their lives and experiences. This study found that the majority of the participating women pastors stated that they entered Christian ministry because of their mothers’ influence and prompting. On a deeper level, however, their decision can be attributed to the special political, economic, and social circumstances in mainland China during the 1950s–1970s. These women pastors see themselves as “double-burdened mothers” with respect to their families and the congregations. They face the challenges of dealing with complicated interpersonal relationships, a lack of male leaders and workers, and weak faith within their congregations.

Volume 4, Issue 2 (2017)

Volume 4, Issue 1 (2017)

Volume 3, Issue 2 (2016)

Volume 3, Issue 1 (2016)

Volume 2, Issue 2 (2015)

Volume 2, Issue 1 (2015)

Volume 1, Issue 2 (2014)

Volume 1, Issue 1 (2014)



Online submission: Articles for publication in the Review of Religion and Chinese Society can be submitted online through Editorial Manager, please click here.

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Review of Religion and Chinese Society
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