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50 J. Church & St. 205 (2008)
Revisiting China's Great Wall of Separation: Religious Liberty in China Today

handle is hein.journals/jchs50 and id is 205 raw text is: Editorial
Revisiting China's Great Wall
of Separation: Religious
Liberty in China Today
CHRISTOPHER MARSH
In the autumn 1986 issue of the Journal of Church and State, Dr.
James E. Wood, Jr., founding editor of the Journal, pronounced that
the winter is past, referring to the end of China's most aggressive
period of repression of religion. Dr. Wood's positive assessment was
ased on the observation that, during the past decade, particularly
since 1980, great strides toward religious freedom have been made in
China. While arguing that liberal attitudes toward religion on the part
of the political leadership are widely evident throughout the country,
he also soberly recognized that religion in China remained clearly
under government control.
Making such a declaration so early in the process of China's
liberalization left him open to criticism, especially from those who felt
that the wisest course of action in dealing with authoritarian regimes
was to limit interaction with them and maintain a tough stance against
Communism. Now, more than twenty years later, we can safely say that
Dr. Wood was correct in his assessment. Indeed, the period which he
identified in his article- 1976-1980-marked a clear turning point in
China's religion policy. Since that time, China has gradually but
steadily expanded religious liberty to the extent that today, many
*CHRISTOPHER MARSH is the incoming editor of the Journal of Church and State, and
has served as the director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies since 2006.
He is also the director of the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, & Society and associate
professor of political science and church-state studies at Baylor University. He is the author
of several books, including most recently Unparalleled Reforms: China's Rise, Russia s Fall,
and the Interdependence of Transition. He is also editor of Burden or Blessing? Russian
Orthodoxy and the Construction of Civil Society and Democracy, and co-editor, with
Wallace Daniel and Peter Berger, of Perspectives on Church-State Relations in Russia.
Additionally, he is the author of numerous articles published in Region, State, & Society,
Communist and Post-Communist Studies, and the Journal of Church and State. Dr. Marsh's
research interests include religion and nationalism, religious belief in the modem world, and
church-state relations in Communist and Post-Communist societies.

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