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Religions and Beliefs

Religion in China has been characterized by pluralism since the beginning of Chinese history. The Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand the exclusive adherence of members. Some scholars question the use of the term "religion" in reference to Buddhism and Daoism, and suggest "cultural practices" or "thought systems" as more appropriate names. The questions of who should be called religious in China, and what religion or religions they should be called are up to debate. Generally, the percentage of people who call themselves religious in China have been the lowest in the world. Buddhism remains the largest organized religion in China since its introduction in the 1st century.

Ancestor worship is the original basic Chinese religion. According to ancient law, the highest King of China, also called the Son of Heaven (Tianzi), sacrificed to Heaven (Tian or Shangdi), Earth (Di) and other gods- especially those of famous mountains and rivers. Seigneurs or officials were accredited to sacrifice to respective gods.

  • Chinese Buddhism

    Buddhism was founded in India by Siddhartha Garutama (563-483 BC) of the Sakyas. Siddhartha was his given name, Gautama his surname and Sakya the name of the clan to which his family belonged.

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  • Chinese Confucianism

    With the exception of Mao, the one name which has become synonymous with China is the Confucius (Kongzi). He was born of a poor family around the year of 551 BC, in what is now Shangdong province.

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  • Chinese Taoism

    It is said that Taoism is the only true 'home-grown' Chinese religion - Buddism was imported from India and Confucianism is mainly philosophy.

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