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Friday, February 09, 2007

Survey in China finds 300 Million Religious Believers

The number of religious believers in China could be three times higher than official estimates, according to a survey reported by state media.

A poll of 4,500 people by Shanghai university professors found 31.4% of people above the age of 16 considered themselves as religious.

This suggests 300 million people nationwide could be religious, compared to the official figure of 100 million.

The survey found that Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Christianity and Islam are the country's five major religions - China considers Catholicism as separate to Christianity, which covers Protestantism.

About 200 million believers "are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune", the China Daily reported.

The survey also found a significant rise in Christianity - accounting for 12% of all believers, or 40 million, compared with the official figure of 16 million in 2005.

He said the average age of religious believers had fallen, with two-thirds of those in the poll who considered themselves religious aged between 16 and 39.

"This is markedly different from the previous decade, when most religious believers were in their 40s or older," he said in the Chinese-language Oriental Outlook magazine, which published the survey.

James: You just can't keep prevent people from believing what they want to believe. It is like trying to damn up a stream. You may keep a majority of the water blocked but water will still find it's way through cracks and holes in the damn. Water (faith) can brake apart and crumble even the strongest rocks (dictatorships) over time.

In a controlling society one can still find ways to express one's faith. Many believers meet in private homes. However, one does not have to attend an organized sangha, temple, church or group to practice faith. One can easily and effectively pray and meditate in one's everyday tasks and to yourself without anyone knowing what you are engaging in.

It reminds me of Jews that continued to practice their faith in concentration camps whenever and however they could. The suffering only made many stronger and more resolute.

And it seems to me that the more you try to keep people down and under control the more faith increases as people turn to religion for solace, peace and freedom from that control!!

As American president Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

PHOTO CREDIT: Newsweek

The beginning of my Buddha tattoo below. This is just the outline. The robes will be colored the traditional saffron and the halo in a red blended to orange. The lotus petals will be a pinkish/lavender coloration. The face and hands will be in a greyish tone.



~Peace to all beings~

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12 comments:

CJ said...

Hi James,

I've just finished reading a book about Mao and the rise of communism. I've been attempting to collect some of my thoughts on it here:
http://cjwords.blogspot.com/
2007/01/mao-megalomaniac-or-just-like-us-im.html

It's extraordinary that faith and practices have been retained and are flourishing! Perhaps it is a reaction against the control?

It makes me think of countries like Britain, where we have (almost) complete religious freedom; religious beliefs are just not important to the majority. A case of having nothing to fight against?

Awesome tattoo! Is it your first?

"James" said...

CJ:

That sounds like an interesting book. Having a history degree I'm extra interested.

Yeah we tend to take our rights for granted here in the west. Pretty sad really. It's a lack of mindfulness I think.

Thanks on the tattoo. No, it's not my first. I've got a sleeve on the other arm of Chinese symbols meaning: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Then I have a dragon wrapped around those symbols along my arm. Apparently the Chinese believe that dragons are the protectors of the various Buddhas.

Then I have five other tattoos. I'm a collector for sure!! lol.

Greenwoman said...

I have to wonder if their hard to make decision to control their birth rate so stringently has something to do with this boom in belief...

A life that's forced to accept so much outward control desparately needs the inner freedom and comfort a faith.

dragonflyfilly said...

oh my gollygeewizz, that is kool, that tatoo is going to be fabulous when it is complete.

yes, dragons are protectors [i'm an apprentice dragon in a hurry]

come over to my Blog for your St. Valentine's Day Greeting,

nameste

pj

"James" said...

Greenwoman:

Yep, it's kind of like squeezing a water balloon. You can cut off one end but it shoots up and out elsewhere.

PJ:

Yeah I'm excited to see the end result.

I'll be right over to your blog. :)

Mac said...

Really sweet tattoo! You gotta post some pics when it's done!

"James" said...

Thanks Mac!! I'll post the final pictures for sure. :)

Dharmasattva said...

James,

Nice tat! It's going to be beautiful.

Namaste.

vimutti said...

Interesting stats on belief in China. Thanks for posting them.

I visited southern China almost 10 years ago for about 10 days and found interest in Chan/Pure Land very active and my young ('young' to me, - 20's) Chinese guide was flirting with Christianity. A visit to a very old temple in Guangzhou found many faithful offering incense openly and without apparent fear and I did the same. While not actually critical of my guide, I did wonder out loud why, when such deep history and access to Budhism was available in the culture and language, there was such interest in Christianity. It seems that the 'NEW' and 'WESTERN' was more important than anything else. Well, Rock-on I guess. Maybe with some luck they will stumble onto the Western John Lennon or even Thoreau-The-American-Daoist in a hundred years or so.

I've thought that having chipped away at, and softened slightly, the rigidity of their own belief system of Communism, they would be a little wary of any new and equally pervasive belief system. But maybe not. It comes with all the flash of modern conveniences and instant gratification and is just too much to resist at this stage of "openness". I was really amazed at how quickly so many years of culture and history could seem to be discarded by some. Do some throw the baby out with the bathwater?

While there, I enjoyed my stay, ate most anything and met many, many sincere people -Buddhists, Daoists and fresh faced newly Christian believers.

trinitystar said...

James,

a >------<--<@ for you

you deserve it.

Namaste

TOR Hershman said...

With a title like Buddhist Blog you may enjoy my latest blog entry "Buddha's Gall Stones."

Stay on Groovin' Safari,
Tor

"James" said...

Dharmasattva:

I got my second sitting done yesterday and it's looking amazing. :)

Vimutti:

That IS interesting that so many people are willing to discard years and years of Buddhist culture and belief for Christianity.

I guess it's something "new" and "western" as you say and maybe that's the attraction for young people. It's a way to kind of rebel against their more traditional parents and grandparents.

TrinityStar:

Thank-you very much. I love flowers. :)

Tor:

Interesting post. :)

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