Posted 17 Apr 2007 21:38
China is a country with many religions. The people have the legal right to choose their own religion. All religions hold equal status and exist in harmony.
Buddhism was the first religion to enter China during the later Han period and has greatly influenced China�s history and culture. The translation of scripture led to the development of the Chinese language. Stories in Buddhism also played an important role in shaping early Chinese thinking. Buddhists in China attend occasional services, practice rituals, and support a temple on a regular basis.
Islam started to enter China during the Tang dynasty. It is an important religion and has converted many ethnic groups like the Hui, Kazak, Baoan and Dongxiang. One autonomous region, Ningxia, has been designated for Muslims. Today, there are more than four million Chinese Muslims.
Christianity entered China as early as the 7th century, but only became actively practiced after the 17th century. Following the entry into China of the western powers in the 19th century, a large number of Catholic and Protestant missionaries came into the country. However, these missionaries had difficulty converting the Chinese because Christianity was associated in the people�s mind with western Imperialism. With the increasing integration with the world, however, Christianity has become popular in recent years.
Taoism was founded in China during the Han dynasty, and originated from Laozi�s school of philosophy. Laozi believed that humans and nature should co-exist in harmony, and this philosophy has been central to the evolution of acupuncture, **** ****, tai chi and meditation into what they are today.
Confucianism is more a school of philosophy than a religion and was founded during the Spring-Autumn period by Confucius. It only became influential during the Han dynasty when the Han rulers adopted Confucianist teachings. This philosophy pervaded Chinese thought and had an immense impact on Chinese culture and society, even until today.
Traditionally Taoism and Confucianism are moral guides to ethical behavior. Both schools of thought started during the Golden Age of Chinese thought. Taoism taught individuals to maintain inner peace while living in harmony with nature and their surroundings while Confucianism sought to inculcate a set of behaviorisms that would create a cordial and fair society. They have been the central influence on the Chinese way of thinking up until today.