Overmyer – Religion in China Today: Introduction
Greater social freedom, which accompanied Dengist economic development,
saw revival of religious traditions in many parts of China.
Government remains committed to control and regulation, but when local
conditions permit, religious activites come bubbling to the surface.
Some outside help from Chinese diaspora and foreign organizations along
religious ties, but most fundamental impetus is Chinese people themselves.
Contrary to Marxist ideology, religion has not withered but flourished. This
amounts to a challenge to the authority of the Party and state.
Religious freedom is important to China's foreign relations.
Imperial China has always been characterized by a state that assumed it has
the right and obligation to control every aspect of life, including religious
beliefs and practices.
PRC has five recognized religious—Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Roman
Catholicism, and Protestantism—but independent groups and popular
religious sects are proscribed.
This also leaves out beliefs and rituals of majority of Chinese people as
practiced in local communities.
Southeast China is area where local communal religion has most strongly
been revived, in part due to influence of Taiwan.
Local temple networks can be an “unofficial level of local governance.”
Despite revival, effects of repression under Republican and communist
governments is still evident.
Because city temples have been mostly destroy,ed urban youth have no way
of learning traditional religious practices.
In rural areas, symbols of modernity may be incorporated in tradition.
Mutually supportive relationships between rituals and organization of local
households, communities and lineages. People may also incorporate beliefs in urban settings (i.e., fengshui).
Most vibrant religious scene is Taiwan, with democratic government and
complete freedom of religion. Taiwan is also “a standing refutation of the old
idea that religion will fade away as modernity advances.”
“Local religious traditions are understood as an integral part of Taiwanese
identity, while politicians seek the support of gods and temples for their
Oldest religious traditions are those of local communities, the emperor and
state, and Daoism. Though imperial traditions died with end of Qing dynasty,
many of their forms, symbols, and dieties stil linfluence local community
Daoists maintained their dieties were superior to common traditions. Daoist
gods are immortal or symbols of astral forces, not deified human beings.
Buddhism has similarly long been part of Chinese religion and culture.
Imported from south Asia