Religion in China

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Religion in China is an issue just like it is in every other country. It comes with many obstacles for people who want to practice their religion, as well as the Chinese government, which is determined to maintain control of the country and not have religion interfere with government policies. Over the past three decades religious observance in China has been on the rise. According to a state-run survey, 31.4 percent of Chinese adults are religious, a figure that is three times the initial government estimate. Even though numbers are steadily growing, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is officially atheist, but over the past few years has become more open and informative about religion. The state introduced new laws and regulations regarding religion, cracking down on sects such as Falun Gong. The state is concerned with maintaining political control while they display their tolerance for religion. In this paper we are going to learn more about the five accepted religions in China; the atheist CCP and their policies; religion in China’s past; and lastly, looking forward is the Chinese government going to be more accepting of religion or will it view religion as a threat to its power? Ultimately, no matter how lenient the CCP became, Muslim Uighurs, Buddhist Tibetans, unregistered Christians, and groups that the party views as cults, such as the aforementioned Falun Gong, are still mistreated and oppressed. Catholicism is a religion on the rise in China; but it is not without issues and intolerance on the part of the CCP. Due to antagonism between Beijing and the Vatican from the 1940s, Catholicism has had the most issues with the CCP among the five accepted religions. For example, in the 1950s, the CCP encouraged the “Three-self Patriotic Movement” in order to minimize the Catholic Church’s ties with the Vatican that opposed the Chinese communist regime. Bishops, priests and nuns who supported the Vatican were arrested; and those who were not were driven underground. The Vatican’s response to this was rejecting archbishops and bishops appointed by the official church, and recognizing Taiwan instead of the People’s Republic. Nobody was safe during this period, even official priests were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution, and for many Catholics, the only solution was to join an underground church to keep practicing their faith. Even though many changes occurred between the 1950s and 1990s, many people were still distrustful of the church. For example, in the early 1990s, it has been estimated, only a fifth or less of Catholics visited official State financed churches; in some places around China underground churches attracted twice as many followers as the official one. However, the state has successfully brought back its Catholics and reversed this situation in recent years. For example, in 2007, Pope Benedict Xvi wrote an open letter to the Catholics in China pushed for the church to be free of state control, but he also did not want to lose the very weak diplomatic ties that the Vatican had with Beijing. He also added that Rome was not looking to overthrow China’s communist regime. In recent years China has had continuous issues internally. The constantly growing population, increased pollution and the growth of the Internet, people want their rights; the CCP is fearful that the Catholic Church might become a threat to its communist regime.

The second accepted religion in China is Islam. Very few people in the West are actually aware that Islam exists in China. It is a religion that has been there for centuries in a country whose culture is fundamentally different. There are over 20 million Muslims in China. The country has several large Muslim ethnic groups. The Hui is by far the largest group of Chinese Muslims. Even though they can be found all over China, the Chinese government has designated two regions for them; an area west of Lanzhou, kown as the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture; and the Ningxia Hui...
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