Lost in the Market, Saved at McDonald’s: Conversion to Christianity in Urban China
by Fenggang Yang
The “Golden Arches” of the McDonald’s restaurants have become common scenes in major Chinese cities, often conspicuously dotting the rapidly changing skylines. Walking through the arches are many young people seeking a sense of modernity and a new meaning of life in the globalizing market. It might appear incongruous to associate the icon of American capitalist culture with religious salvation. However, one can observe a close connection between the two in China, which is fascinating and intriguing.
Why do urban young people convert to Christianity in China today? The educated, young professionals who have fared quite well in the growing market economy find Christianity is not something traditional, conservative, or restrictive. Rather, it is perceived as progressive, liberating, modern, and universal. For Chinese converts, Christianity is a faith that provides peace, certainty, and liberation amid bewildering market forces and a stifling political atmosphere.