Religion in China

China is a multi-religious country. Chinese religious believers mainly believe in Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity. A basic pattern had gradually taken shape, with Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity (Protestantism) as the five main religions. There are also a few people who believe in Judaism, Orthodox Church, Shamanism and other folk beliefs.


Chinese citizens can freely choose, express their beliefs and show their religious identity. According to incomplete statistics, China currently has more than 100 million believers of various religions, more than 85,000 religious venues, about 300,000 religious clergies, and more than 3,000 religious organizations. Religious organizations in China handle religious affairs autonomously, set up religious schools as needed, print and distribute religious classics, publish religious publications, and establish social welfare services.


Buddhism in China

Buddhism originated in ancient India in the BC 6th to 5th century. The founder was named Siddhartha Gautama. At the age of 20, he left his home and became enlightened. Since then, he was honored as "Buddha", which means enlightened person, and his religion is called "Buddhism".




The exact time when Buddhism was introduced to China is still inconclusive, and there are many different opinions, roughly around the time of the Han Dynasty. There are mainly three schools of Chinese Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and Southern Buddhism. The Sui and Tang Dynasties were the peak of Chinese Buddhism.


Tibetan Buddhism is mainly popular in Tibet and Yunnan. Chinese Southern Buddhism, or Theravada Buddhism, is mainly distributed in Xishuang Banna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and Dehong Dai Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. The majority of the Dai people, Bulang people, Achang people, and Wa people in Simao, Lincang, and Baoshan areas believe in Southern Buddhism.


Taoism in China

Taoism was officially founded in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, marked by the emergence of Taiping sect and Wudoumi sect. It has a history of more than 1,700 years. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, through the efforts and reforms of Ge Hong, Kou Qianzhi, Lu Xiujing, Tao Hongjing and others, Taoism became one of the orthodox Chinese religions alongside Buddhism.




After Yuan Dynasty, Taoism gradually formed two schools: Quanzhen sect and Zhengyi sect. Taoism declined in the Ming Dynasty, and its influence on the ruling class was far less than that of the Tang and Song Dynasties. In the Qing Dynasty, the royal family respected Tibetan Buddhism and adopted a strict policy of restricting Taoism. Taoism declined further and its activities were mainly among the people.


In April 1957, the first national representative meeting of the Taoist circle was held in Beijing, and the Chinese Taoist Association was established, with Yue Chongdai as the first chairman of the council. Chinese Taoism has entered a new period of development.


Islam in China

Islam was originally the religion of the Arabs. It was born in Mecca, a commercial town in the midwestern Arabian Peninsula in the early 7th century. After only a few decades, the Arabs quickly unified the Arabian Peninsula under the new religious banner, and expanded outward, establishing an Arab empire that spans three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, making Islam a worldwide religion.




During the Tang and Song Dynasties (seventh to thirteenth centuries) Islam was introduced and developed into China. Since the Yuan Dynasty, Islam has become an independent religious belief in parallel with other religions. It is based on several ethnic groups that believe in Islam, collectively known as the "Huihui" formed in the Yuan Dynasty, namely the Hui nationality, Salar nationality, Dongxiang nationality, and Xinjiang nationality.


Islam first entered the Xinjiang region during the Five Dynasties period in China at the beginning of the 10th century. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the China Islamic Association was established, and Chinese Islam was reborn. Since China's reform and opening up, the religious life of Chinese Muslims has been fully respected, and social status has truly been equal. The development of Chinese Islam in all aspects has an unprecedented new atmosphere.


Catholicism in China

According to legend, Christianity was founded in Palestine by Jesus. In most countries in the world, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholic are collectively referred to as Christianism. In China, Christianity generally only refers to Protestantism, excluding Eastern Orthodox and Catholicism. After the Jesuit missionaries entered China to preach in the 16th century, they borrowed the original Chinese name to translate the name of the god they believed, so the religion they spread was named "Catholic."




Catholicism began to be introduced into China in the Tang Dynasty and again in the 13th century. After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, Catholicism was almost extinct in China. In the 16th century, Catholicism was once again introduced into China following the wave of Western colonialism.


After the Opium War in 1840, missionaries entered China one after another, and Catholicism developed again. Missionaries The missionaries set up churches, monasteries, schools, hospitals, and orphanages to spread and develop Catholicism in various ways. Since China's reform and opening up, the party and government's policy on freedom of religious belief has been implemented, and the various undertakings of Chinese Catholicism have made considerable progress. 


Christianism (Protestantism) in China

What China calls Christianity or Jesusism refers to the various new sects that broke away from Catholicism in the European Reformation Movement in the 16th century, as well as the collective name of the numerous sects that have continuously differentiated from these religions. Chinese academic circles call it Protestantism to distinguish it from Christianity in a broad sense, including Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox.




Protestantism was introduced to China in the early 19th century. In 1807, the London Missionary Society of England sent Morrison to China and he was the first Protestant missionary to mainland China. After the Opium War, the missionary activities of the preacher were also included in the treaty as a privilege. And the apostles used this as a talisman to enter the mainland to preach.


In 1950, Chinese Christian leaders like Wu Yaozong published the "Three-Self Manifesto" of "The Ways Chinese Christianity Strives in the Construction of New China", which marked that Chinese Christianity completely got rid of the control of foreign missions. It completely cut off the relationship with imperialism, realized the "self-governance, self-support and self-propagation" of Chinese Christianity, and run the Christian cause independently.


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