Religion in China

Topics: China, Religion in China, Religion Pages: 23 (8041 words) Published: May 25, 2013
Religion in China
Religion in China has been characterized by pluralism since the beginning of Chinese history.[6] Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand exclusive adherence, allowing the practice or belief of several at the same time. Some scholars prefer not to use the term "religion" in reference to Buddhism and Taoism, and suggest "cultural practices", "thought systems" or "philosophies" as more appropriate terms.[7] There is a stimulating debate over what to call religion and who should be called religious in China.[8] Buddhism remains a widely practiced religion since its introduction in the 1st century. One of the largest group of religious traditions is popular religion the religion of the Hans, which overlaps with Taoism, and the worship of the shens, a collection of local ethnic deities, heroes and ancestors, and figures from Chinese mythology.[9] Among the most popular ones in recent years have been Mazu (goddess of the seas, patron of Southern China), Huangdi (divine patriarch of all the Chinese, "Volksgeist" of the Chinese nation),[10][11][12] the Black Dragon,[13][14][15] Caishen (god of prosperity and richness),[16] and others. Although established since the 7th century, Christianity in China declined as a result of persecution during the 10th through 14th centuries.[17] It was reintroduced in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. In the 18th and 19th centuries, with the widespread influx of Protestant and Catholic missionaries, Western religions gained a foothold. The Taiping Rebellion of the mid 19th century was based on a form of Christianity. The Communist Party of China, which came to power in 1949, based on Marxism as an atheist ideology, viewed traditional religions as backwards, and Christianity as the tool of Western colonialism, but has steadfastly maintained separation of church from state.[18] After the "opening up" of the 1980s, religious freedoms were expanded for Christians, and traditional beliefs like Taoism and Buddhism were supported as an integral part of the Chinese culture. In the early 21st century, Popular Religion, Taoism and Buddhism are the largest religions in China with respectively over 30%[19][20][21] (of which 160 million, or 11% of the total population of the country, are Mazuists[22]) and 18–20%[2][3][4] of the population adhering to them, thriving throughout the country as the government is allowing them to spread.[23] Almost 4% of the religious composition is made up of non-Han ethnicities who follow their traditional tribal and autochthone religions.[24][25] Christians are 4–5% of the population according to various detailed surveys.[5][26][27][28][29][30] Between 1949–2007, indigenous Chinese Christianity has been growing.[31][32] Muslims are 1–2%.[33] However, the biggest part of the population, ranging between 60% and 70%, is mostly agnostic or atheist.[28][34][35] Various new religious movements, both indigenous and exogenous, are scattered across the country.[36] Confucianism as a religion is popular among intellectuals.[37] China has many of the world's tallest statues, including the tallest of all. Most of them represent buddhas, deities and religious personalities and have been built in the 2000s. The world's tallest statue is the Spring Temple Buddha, located in Henan. Recently built in the country are also the world's tallest pagoda[38] and the world's tallest stupa.[39] Ancient and pre-historic

Further information: Wonderism and Wu (shaman)
Prior to the advent of Chinese civilization and world religions in the region generally known today as East Asia including the territorial boundaries of modern-day China; tribal Sport in the People's Republic of China and animistic religious practices were the way in which prayers, sacrifices or offerings were communicated to the spiritual world by groups or mediatory individuals such as shamans.[40] Following the dawn of Chinese civilization, an early indigenous form of religious practice in Chinese...
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