In an interesting move, the Chinese government yesterday announced it will restore or rebuild 12 churches, mosques and temples in Beijing.
Yang Xiaodong, a Beijing Religion Bureau official said the municipal government will spend 12 million yuan ($1.75 million) so that Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and Daoists will have better access to places of worship.
For instance, it seems many of the churches are not well maintained, or in some cases, like the Changxindian Church in southwest Beijing was used as a warehouse in the 1950s and 1960s.
And so the government is trying to help meet the huge demand for religions these days in the Chinese capital.
Father Matthew Zhen Xuebin, secretary-general of the Catholic Church of the Beijing Diocese says there are 50,000 to 60,000 Catholics in Beijing, but only 20 Catholic churches , eight downtown and 12 in the suburbs.
"The number of Catholics is growing as people enjoy more freedom to choose their religions and because more foreigners are coming to Beijing," Zhen said.
Are there really that many foreigners coming to Beijing who are Catholics? Or are they an excuse for the government to save face and fix up the churches?
Nevertheless, Zhen is probably referring to the number of Catholics who go to government-sanctioned churches; there are probably thousands more in underground churches.
But even then the numbers he cites indicates how many people are turning to some kind of higher spiritual being for guidance in their daily lives.
Seems like government doctrine doesn't quite have that mystical feeling that gives people a sense of wonder and awe.