July 1, 2013 1:14 PM

China’s underground churches thrive despite government disapproval

In a trendy coffee shop in Shanghai’s glittering financial district, five people cram into a tiny, dimly lit back room with two tables. By day, these five are white-collar workers, eagerly climbing the corporate ladder as China’s economy booms. By night, once a week, they’re huddled over their Bibles. They elect to worship in what’s widely known as the “underground church,” a place for Chinese Christians to practice in smaller settings and without fear of government influence on what’s being preached. It comes with a different fear, though: Being an unregistered Christian is illegal.

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