Taoism and Religion in Communist China – Part 3/3

Until Communism arrived, religion and the state were often closely linked. In the imperial era, the emperor was regarded as divine; political institutions were believed to be part of the cosmic order; and Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism were incorporated in different ways into political systems and social organizations.

U.S. History.org says, “Taoism and Confucianism have lived together in China for well over 2,000 years. Confucianism deals with social matters, while Taoism concerns itself with the search for meaning. They share common beliefs about man, society, and the universe, although these notions were around long before either philosophy.”

During the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), the teenage Red Guard did not discriminate against particular religions — they were against them all. They ripped crosses from church steeples, forced Catholic priests into labor camps, tortured Buddhist monks in Tibet and turned Muslim schools into pig slaughterhouses. Taoists, Buddhists and Confucians were singled out as vestiges of the Old China and forced to change or else…

However, under Deng Xiaoping, in 1978, the ban on religious teaching was lifted. In fact, since the mid-1980s there has been a massive program to rebuild Buddhist and Taoist temples.

Then in December 2004, China’s government in Beijing announced new rules that guaranteed religious beliefs as a human right.

According to an article in The People’s Daily: “As China has more than 100 million people believing in religion, so the protection of religious freedom is important in safeguarding people’s interests and respecting and protecting human rights.”

In March 2005, religion was enshrined in China as a basic right of all citizens. Even so, worship outside designated religion remains forbidden. Source: Facts and Details – Religion in China

There are five religions recognized by the state, namely Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. There are also a few Jewish Synagogues: two in Beijing, two in Shanghai, and five in Hong Kong.

Return to Taoism – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China

4 Responses to Taoism and Religion in Communist China – Part 3/3

  1. merlin says:

    Would Confucianism be considered a religion? Many call it that, but I feel it’s more of a social philosophy because it concerns societal matters (status rank, mannerisms, etc) where Taoism focuses on a spiritual belief.

    So if the ban was lifted, why does every religious site have a wall around it requiring an entry ticket? I’ve heard from some of the western renters, in my previous apartment rental business, that even the western churches require one to show their passports in order to enter.

    • Merlin,

      Some call Confucisanism a religion and some call it a philosopy – a way to live one’s life – a moral code. I agree with you. I do not consider it a religion.

      Do you mean religous Internet sites in China?

      • merlin says:

        China bans religious internet sites? Hmm, I always thought there’s a possibility for money to be made to help those in need jump the Great Firewall of China.

        Anyways, I meant the walls around the religious sites. The temples. Many force u to buy a ticket/entry fee. I feel bad for the actual religious people that go there to pray and donate money in the donation box. Reminds me of Putuoshan. The big Guanyin statue had a hall of a thousand buddha underneath. It’s free to walk around in, but there was a line all the way out the door and down the steps for people willing to donate some rmb. I’ve heard if a person donates money they think their donation is an act of good karma, therefore, they’ll get good luck and fortune.

        Anyways, I just feel bad for these people that go there looking for hope, and end up paying an extra entrance fee just to get through the front gate.

      • Merlin,

        Is this different from Sunday mass in a Catholic Church where the basket on a pole arrives in front of your face while men and/or women walk up and down the aisles collecting the weekly donations from the faithful?

        Is this different from the Mormon religion collecting tithes by requiring, demanding and hounding its faithful members to have the tithe automatically deducted from their paychecks and deposited into the Mormon religions bank accounts?

        Religion is a business and to survive and maintain the churches, temples and cathedrals takes money.

        In Thailand, you will find Buddhist temples covered in gold foil since the faithful are taught that this is a way to improve their odds of a better next life and even Thais living in severe poverty find ways to buy a little bit of gold foil to add to the rest of the gold that coats the temples dome.

Leave a Reply to Lloyd Lofthouse Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: