The State of Religion in Today’s China

December 19, 2010

The U.S. Department of State reports that China is officially atheist (and has been for thousands of years). However, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian and Muslims are allowed to worship in China and these religions have a significant role in the lives of many Chinese.

A February 2007 survey conducted by East China Normal University and reported in China’s state-run media concluded that 31.4% of Chinese citizens ages 16 and over are religious believers.

While the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. The five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

Singapore, another nation in Asia, has similar restrictions.

Historically, China has not been accepting of cults, and there is a difference between a religion and a cult.

Princeton.edu says, cult members are “followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”

All one has to do is study China’s history to understand the Middle Kingdom’s sensitivity toward cults and political activists. China’s struggle with pagan cults reaches back almost a thousand years. Source: The Millennium Cult

There are no official statistics confirming the number of Taoists in China.


Fascinating discussion of how Chinese culture interacts with religions.

Official figures indicate there are 20 million Muslims, 20 million Protestants, and 5.3 million Catholics; unofficial estimates are much higher.

According to About Chinese Culture.com, there are more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.

Buddhism, the most popular religion in China with about a 100 million followers, has a 2,000-year history in the Middle Kingdom and there are about 13,000 Buddhist temples.

Taoism, native to China, has a history of more than 1,700 years with over 1,500 temples.

Islam, which was introduced into China in the seventh century has more than 30,000 mosques.

At present, China has about 4,600 Catholic churches and meetinghouses.

Protestantism first arrived in China in the early 19th century. Today there are more than 12,000 churches and 25,000 meeting places.

Although Judaism is not listed as one of the officially recognized religions in China, there are Jewish synagogues in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Jews first settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road. The Jews were welcomed by the Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building the Kaifeng synagogue, which was finished in 1163 AD.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

Advertisements

A Foul Taste in the Mouth of a Falun Gong Fanatic

October 13, 2010

On October 5, a comment appeared from someone called JJYZ to The Falun Gong Machine , which appeared in June 2010.

JJYZ says, “I leave this discussion with a foul taste in my mouth.” He or she also says, “Lloyd (me) has swallowed CCP propaganda hook, line, and sinker.” (This post is a short version of a reply to JJYZ’s comment)

I have news for JJYZ. My opinions formed from direct interactions with the Falun Gong.

I’ve had Falun Gong members sitting around my kitchen table. I’ve attended a Falun Gong Chinese New Year’s musical production at a theater in San Francisco and discovered that it was propaganda designed to recruit and retain religious cult members

I’ve also written other posts on the topic of Chinese religious cults: The Millennium Cult and The White Lotus Mutation.

JJYZ provides a link to a site called “defend democracy.org”, which doesn’t make much sense unless it is another gear in the Falun Gong running machine.

China has NEVER been a democracy so what is there to defend against. In 1982, the structure of China’s government became a one party republic, which offers more representation than any government in China’s history.

In fact, Chinese culture has never accepted organized religions or cults as a permanent element of the culture as the West and the Middle East have done.

There were four Buddhist persecutions in China carried out between the fifth through the tenth centuries by four Chinese emperors. Source: Four Buddhist Persecutions in China

The most brutal was in 845 AD by Emperor Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty. He decided that the Buddhists were growing too influential and wealthy so he outlawed the religion.

Wuzong also persecuted Christians, Muslims, Jews and other organized religions.

As for the bad taste in JJYZ’s mouth, this symptom may be a side effect of being brainwashed by a religious cult and becoming a fanatic.

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Regulating Religions in China

October 8, 2010

In the U.S., Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner once said, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer difficult questions: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?” Source: Theocracy Watch

The answer to Justice O’Conner’s question is the reason why China’s government keeps such a close watch on religions and decides which ones may practice there.

In the past, Roman Catholic Popes told the kings of Europe what to do, which led to the persecution and eradication of the Cathars.

There are more examples of religious corruption such as the Inquisition, the Crusades to the Middle East, China’s Taiping Rebellion, and the wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe.

What I have listed in the previous paragraph is a brief example. The list is long. For thousands of years, religions have waged wars on each other and on those who do not join.

Then consider how many major religions there are. Why does it have to be so complicated? After all, there is only one God.

As it is, “China is a country with a great diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism… According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.” Source: Chinese Culture

If you visit the previous link, you will discover that China does allow people to worship God and join religions.

However, China reserves the right to decide which religions and cults may be destructive and keeps these groups out of China such as the Falun Gong cult.

Learn about The Kaifeng Jews

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Misconceptions of China – The Chinese Government

August 20, 2010

This three-part series comes from a young Chinese man speaking on YouTube about Western misconceptions of China.

Larry says that one of the greatest misconceptions about China’s government is that people outside China believe it is completely Communist—a machine that gets rid of what it doesn’t like.  Even Larry’s Chinese-American friends feel this way.  That opinion is wrong.

Larry says that China does censor a few things like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The reason for that are because of Falun Gong, and Tibetan or Muslim (in Xingjian province) separatists.

Source: ShiWoLarry

Larry says many Westerners believe if you say bad things about the Chinese government, you will be arrested. The only instance where that might be true is if you used a loud speaker in the center of Tiananmen Square.  

Larry then talks about the few human rights violations Westerners hear so much about. The central government reacts the way it does toward the Falun Gong, Tibetan Separatists and the Muslims in Xingjian province because the Communists came to power through rebellion and want to avoid the same thing happening to them.  

After the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911, China went through chaos and anarchy for decades—millions suffered and died.  Any rebellion would mean a return to those horrible times and regardless of any negativity one hears or reads about China, there is a lot of good things going on that we don’t hear about in the West.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


The Question of Religion (2/2)

August 13, 2010

Think of the violence and wars that religions have caused—the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, genocide against the Cathars (see video), the wars between Catholics and Protestants, and the persecution of Jews by both Muslims and Christians.

Then there are Islamic fundamentalists and the suffering and death caused by their religious beliefs.

Although most people in China are not religious, religions have caused uprising and wars in China too.

The Ming Dynasty (1368-1643) came about due to a rebellion against the Mongol Yuan Dynasty led by a religious sect known as the “Red Turbans” or “Red Scarves”, which included elements from “White Lotus”, a Buddhist sect from the late Southern Song Dynasty. Source: New World Encyclopedia

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when the Manchu minority ruled China, there were a number of religious uprisings.

There was the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1804) in the mountain region that separates Sichuan province from Hubei and Shaanxi provinces. The White Lotus was a secret religious society promising salvation to its followers similar to the Falun Gong today.

A Christian convert claiming to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ led the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) and more than 20 million died.

The Panthay Rebellion (1856-1873) was a separatist movement led by the Hui people and Chinese Muslims.

There was also the Dungan revolt (1862-1877), led by Muslims in China’s Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang provinces. Chinese historians and officials believed that Islam played a role in causing that uprising.

Maybe the reason China survived for thousands of years without collapsing as Western civilization did when Rome fell was the absence of a major religious movement in China stirring the peoples’ emotions.

Instead of listening to God from the mouths of Popes, prophets and priests, the Chinese had a blend of Confucianism and Taoism, which the family taught by example.

Return to The Question of Religion – Part 1

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


The Question of Religion (1/2)

August 12, 2010

I read a piece in the August National Geographic about Native Lands in America. The piece mentions the horrible atrocities committed by the European invaders against the natives who had lived on the land for more than ten thousand years.

As I read, I wondered if the reason Chinese civilization survived for thousands of years was because China had no organized religion to stir the emotions of the people and set them against each other in endless religious wars. 

When I brought this up with an old friend of mine who is a born again evangelical Christian, his response was that real Christians didn’t cause religious wars.

I question his right to decide who a real Christian is.  In fact, most Christians believe they will be forgiven since the cornerstone of Christian religion is Christ dying on the cross for their sins so killing all those nonbelievers must have been okay.

There are even influential and wealthy Christians (see above video) who support Israel rebuilding Solomon’s temple for the sole reason that it means the end of life on earth as we know it. However, those Christians believe they would be with God as His chosen few.

I wonder if early Christians may have been the reason the Roman Empire eventually collapsed.

See Cults and Christian Cannon Balls

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China


How US Fanatics Lose Jobs to China

June 27, 2010

I read The dragon’s DNA in The Economist last night before sleep, and after waking up, I read a piece in the May Smithsonian about how one born-again man used a minority Christian fundamentalist movement to bring about Prohibition.  If the nation’s voters had been given a choice at the polls, Prohibition would have failed.

Because I read the two pieces close together, I made a connection. The Economist piece is  about a company in China, BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) and is about China soon dominating DNA research. BGI is about to have more DNA-sequencing capacity than the United States possibly making China the leader in this field.

Meanwhile, in the US, research in genetics is hampered by minority groups similar to the one the Smithsonian talks about in The Man Who Turned Off The Taps. Wayne B. Wheeler, who’s responsible for bringing about prohibition touched every American life, and he did this by using political blackmail—something organized, born-again Christians and the Tea Bag people are doing today.

It is obvious that political minority dictatorships in the US send jobs to China. Instead of China, the US could be the leader in genetic research. Allowing minorities to use political blackmail to achieve political and religious agendas is wrong.  No wonder the Chinese have kicked religions out of China every few centuries and killed those who didn’t leave fast enough.

See Jobless in America and Angry at China

_________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse,
Award winning author of Hart’s concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

Sign up for an RSS Feed for iLook China