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Religions in China

Chinese religions are diversified all over the country. China is a multi-religious country. Chinese religion has been a bizarre mixture of philosophy and superstition. It has been influenced by three great trends in human thinking: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. In their pure forms of all these are more philosophies than they are religions, but they have all been inextricably entwined in the religious consciousness of the Chinese and the popular religion of China is a fusion of ancient superstition with the three philosophies. The founders of these philosophies have all been deified and the Chinese have worshiped both them and their disciples as fervently as they've worshipped their own ancestors and a multiplicity of gods and spirits, and the whole lot is permeated with sorcery and magic.

The most important word in the Chinese popular religious vocabulary is joss. It means luck, and th Chinese being so astute did not leave something as important as luck to chance. Gods had to be appeased, bad spirits blown away a sleeping dragon soothed to keep joss on your side. No house, wall or shrine was built until an auspicious date for the start of construction had been chosen and the most propitious location selected. Incense had to be burned, gifts presented and prayers said to appease the spirits who might inhabit the future construction site; it all stemmed from a combination fo traditional superstition with Taoism which taught man to maintain harmony with the universe, not to disturb it.

Confucianism, on the other hand, took care of the political and moral aspects of life, and Buddhism took care of the after- life. At one time or other, in various places around the country, Islam, Christianity and even Judaism have taken root.

Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism have smaller but substantial followers too. Different ethnic groups usually follow different religions. Islam is followed by the Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Tatar, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan peoples; Buddhism and Lamaism are followed by the Tibetan, Mongolian, Dai and Yugur nationalities; Christianity is followed by the Miao, Yao and Yi nationalities; Shamanism is followed by the Oroqen, Ewenki and Daur nationalities; and the majority Han nationality believes in Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity.

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