The spiritual sea of change taking place in China will not be without its challenges—some more complex than others.

While China is officially an atheist country, it is undergoing one of the most dramatic religious overhauls in modern memory. In 1949, the country was home to an estimated 1 million Christians. In 2010, that number was more like 58 million. And some studies are saying that by 2030, China could be home 247 million Christians—the most of any nation in the world.

This is all happening despite serious tensions with authorities, who only allow Christians to worship together in state-approved churches. Nevertheless, the country’s “underground” house churches have thrived.

Perhaps sensing that they’re fighting a losing battle, the Chinese government is considering a compromise of sorts with their country’s Christian population. Senior religious affairs officials have discussed the possibility of establishing their own “Chinese Christian theology,” that will conform to “China’s national condition and integrate with Chinese culture.”

Authorities have yet to offer any details about what an atheist government-sanctioned brand of “theology” would look like, but when they do, China’s churches will be faced with a new hurdle and a very important conversation: What is the price of religious freedom?

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