China is known for its varied religious beliefs and diversities. The main religions that are followed in China are Taoism, Islam, Buddhism, Protestantism and Catholicism. Chinese citizens have full rights to pursue any religion and faith openly and also share and display their religious beliefs publicly. The country has more than 100 million followers of different religions with approximately 85000 places for religious worshipping, 300000 clergy and around 3000 organizations of different religions. Apart from these, the country has 74 colleges and schools that impart education on religion.
The main religion in China was Buddhism. It entered China 2000 years back. At present there are around 13000 Buddhist temples run by over 200000 lamas, monks and nuns. Taoism is the original religion of China that originated 1700 years back. There are more than 1500 Taoist temples and over 25000 Taoists nuns and priests in China at present. Islam made entry into China during the 7th century. As of today, the country has a population of 18 million Muslims with 30000 mosques run by 40000 Imams and Akhunds. Catholicism entered China simultaneously with Islam during the 7th century but spread more widely only after Opium War of 1840. Currently, more than four million Catholics reside in China with approximately 4000 clergy running 4600 churches throughout the country. Protestantism came quite late as compared to other religions during the 19th century and became hugely popular after the Opium War. At present, 10 million Protestants reside in China and there are more than 18000 clergy who run approximately 12000 churches.
There are many religious organizations in China that nurture the growth of their respective religions. The head of these religious organizations are selected on the basis of their respective regulations with no pressure or interference from the government. Some of the prominent national religious organizations in China include:
Chinese Government has kept its education system away from the influence of any particular religion. Hence no religion is taught in the schools. There are certain higher grade institutions that promote and encourage research oriented studies on religions. Apart from that, various religious organizations teach doctrines; all the activities are carried out in their own premises conducted by the clergy. People practice their faiths and religious practices such as reciting scriptures, worshipping, praying, observing Mass, preaching, initiation of monkhood, celebrating religious festivals, baptizing, and memorial functions at their own level. Chinese citizens have full freedom of carrying their religious activities at their own level albeit without hurting the faith of others.
The Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976) created devastating impact on all the strata of the Chinese society and to some extent also resulted in conflict between the religions. But the outcome was quite positive as in the end government was successful in establishing law and implementing policies that offered equal rights and liberty to all the religions. The churches and temples that were closed during that period were opened again and since then all the religions have co-existed here with peace and tranquility. As of today, the country has no problems of religious disputes. Both believers and non-believers of religion are respected equally. People’s Republic of China has a well formulated policy of freedom that confers equal rights upon citizens of all religions.
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