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How the Bible went from banned book to bestseller

Author: Bible Society, 6 March 2017

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With China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, came an end to religious freedom. The Bible was banned. Churches were closed. Christians worshipped in secret and in fear. But now China is the world's biggest producer of Bibles. Here's how. 

From 1966 until 1976, during the Cultural Revolution, any expression of religion was outlawed. Owning a Bible could land you in serious trouble. Copies of the Bible discovered by the Red Guards were confiscated and burned. Churches were closed, Christian worship was banned and some Christian pastors and leaders were imprisoned.

But today, in this largely atheist country, the Bible is a bestseller. Christianity is growing here faster than almost any country in the world.1 There are at least 40 million Protestant Christians in the country, a further six million Catholics, and a million more come to faith every year.2

Half a million baptisms take place annually3 and by 2020 it’s expected that one in 10 people in China will be Christian.4 Within a generation, China could be a nation with the highest population of Christians on earth.5

An open door 

It’s a remarkable story. And we’ve been at the heart of it. Over decades, through working with the registered Church, with the blessing of the government, we’ve carved out a unique ministry in China.

In 1987, in response to requests from Chinese church leaders, we helped to establish the Amity Printing Company. In 2008, it moved to larger, upgraded facility, the size of 12 football pitches and with the capacity to print 20 million Bibles a year. It’s now the world’s biggest Bible printing factory.

Our unparalleled access to the Chinese government means that we’ve been able to print millions of copies for the Chinese Church.

When we became aware of the government’s desire to improve healthcare in rural areas, we provided medical vans to offer check-ups alongside Scripture.

We have seen the Bible change the lives of many people, for good.

Find out more about our work in China


1. Christianity is growing at a rate of 10.86% per year in China. Nepal is the only country where Christianity is growing faster, at 10.93% annually. Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Christianity in its Global Context, June 2013
2. China Partnership
3. China Partnership
4. Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Christianity in its Global Context, June 2013
5. Fenggang Yang, Prof of sociology at Purdue University, USA,  quoted in The Telegraph, April 2014

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