At virkeligheten noen ganger er helt forskjellig fra det offisielle bildet får vi et fascinerende eksempel på i The Economists briefing om "Religion in China - Cracks in the atheist edifice". Her kan vi lese at mens kommunistpartiet har omkring 87 millioner medlemmer så er antall kristne i kraftig vekst og har kanskje allerede passert antall kommunister. The Economist skriver:
"It is hard even to guess at the number of Christians in China. Official surveys seek to play down the figures, ignoring the large number who worship in house churches. By contrast, overseas Christian groups often inflate them. There were perhaps 3m Catholics and 1m Protestants when the party came to power in 1949. Officials now say there are between 23m and 40m, all told. In 2010 the Pew Research Centre, an American polling organisation, estimated there were 58m Protestants and 9m Catholics. Many experts, foreign and Chinese, now accept that there are probably more Christians than there are members of the 87m-strong Communist Party. Most are evangelical Protestants."
Det at protestantismen vokser er for øvrig ikke noe som er unikt for Kina. Det er også en sterk vekst mange andre steder i verden, som Latin Amerika, Sør Korea og Vietnam. I Vietnam har det i mange år vært mulig å kombinere medlemskap i kommunistpartiet med det å tilhøre en religion. Det er fortsatt ikke tillatt i Kina, men i følge The Economist er det ikke alltid så lett å håndheve det:
"Meanwhile, acts of defiance are increasing. A mid-ranking official in a big city was recently told that her Christian faith, which was well known in the office, was not compatible with her party membership and she would have to give it up. She politely told her superiors that she would not be able to do that, and that her freedom of belief was protected by the Chinese constitution. She was not fired, but sent on a remedial course at a party school. She is now back at her job, and says her colleagues often come to her asking for prayer."