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Chinese Religions

 

The Present Conditions of Religion in China

China is a country with a great diversity of religions, with over 100 million followers of the various faiths. The main religions are Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, China's indigenous Taoism, along with Shamanism, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and the Naxi people's Dongba religion. The Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tatar, Ozbek, Tajik, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan peoples adhere to Islam; the Tibetan, Mongolian, Lhoba, Moinba, Tu and Yugur, to Tibetan Buddhism (also known as Lamaism), and the Dai, Blang and Deang to Theravada Buddhism. Quite a few Miao, Yaoand Yi are Christians. Religious Han Chinese tend to practice Buddhism, Christianity or Taoism.

 

Buddhism was introduced to China from India approximately in the first century A.D., becoming increasingly popular and the most influential religion in China after the fourth century. Tibetan Buddhism, as a branch of Chinese Buddhism, is popular primarily in Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Now China has more than 13,000 Buddhist temples.

 

Islam probably first reached China in the mid-seventh century. The Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) witnessed the zenith of prosperity of Islam. Now China has more than 30,000 mosques.

 

Catholic influence reached China several times after the seventh century, and Protestantism was introduced into China in the early 19th century. Now there are more than 4,600 Catholic churches and over 12,000 Protestant churches, as well as over 25,000 other types of Christian places of worship in China.

 

Taoism probably took shape as a religion during the second century, based on the philosophy of Lao Zi (traditionally said to be born in 604 BC) and his work, the Dao De Jing (Classic of the Way and Virtue). China now has more than 1,500 Taoist temples.

 

China has the following national religious organizations: Buddhist Association of China, Taoist Association of China, Islamic Association of China, Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Chinese Catholic Bishops' College, Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China, and China Christian Council.

 

Legal Protection of the Freedom of Religious Belief

Chinese citizens' right of the freedom of religious belief is protected by the Constitution and laws. In the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, freedom of religious belief is a basic right enjoyed by all citizens. Article 36 of the Constitution stipulates, "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief… No State organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion." Again, "the State protects normal religious activities… No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the State". In addition, "Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination".

 

In accordance with the Constitution's provisions on freedom of religious belief of citizens, the Chinese government has formulated specific policies to ensure respect for and safeguard freedom of religious belief for ethnic minorities and guarantee all normal religious activities of ethnic minority citizens. Currently, there are more than 30,000 mosques in China, of which 23,000 are in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and 13,000-some Buddhist temples, of which are over 1,700 places for Tibetan-Buddhism activities in Tibet.

 

 

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