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Faiths in turmoil in China, says report

ICC Note: More details on Chinese religious survey that reported 23 million Christians

8/13/10 China (UCAN) – A comprehensive report on religion in China says all five government-recognized religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism – face unprecedented challenge and change.

The Annual Report on China’s Religions (2010) published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a Beijing think-tank, attributes the upheaval to the dramatic social transformation taking place throughout China.

Among its comments on individual faiths, it says that:

• Buddhism is impacted by the commercialism of the new economy.
• The sacredness of Taoism is being eroded by the secular.
• Muslims in China feel perplexed by the difference between history and modern reality.
• The Catholic Church in China has to uphold the principle of independence at the same time as it has to handle its relationship with the Vatican.

As well as touching briefly on Confucianism and folk religions, the book, launched in Beijing on Aug. 11, contains the first-ever large scale survey of China’s Protestant Church. The survey was based on data from over 200,000 questionnaires distributed nationwide.

The survey reveals that the country has over 23 million Protestants, about 1.8 percent of the total population. Over 60 percent are in the 35-64 age range, which suggest an ageing congregation, and 68.8 percent are female.

More than half are not educated beyond high school level. Nearly 70 percent say they became a Protestant through circumstances such as personal or family sickness, which made them turn to religion.

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