Religion in China exists but is by no means popular. China is officially an atheist state with one of the lowest percentages in the world of people who consider themselves religious.
Religious Diversity in China
China is officially an atheist state with one of the lowest percentages in the world of people who consider themselves religious.
While religion in China isn’t very popular, there are many Chinese people who practice Chinese superstitions.
Buddhism and Daoism (Taoism) are the most popular religions in China. However, there are also sizeable populations of Muslims (1-2%), and Christians (3-4%).
[ Wikipedia ]
Despite its majority atheist population, China has up to 300 million religious believers, according to a 2007 government-sponsored survey on spirituality and religion in China.
The study disputed the long-standing official estimate of 100 million, a figure that has stood since the 1960s. Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam accounted for 67% of believers.
[ The Washington Post ]
China Facts: Christianity in China
China will soon have the largest Christian population in the world, according to a government-sponsored survey. David Aikman (author of Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power, 2003) predicted that over the next three decades, China’s Christian population will grow to about 400 million, or one-third of China’s population.
There are more Christians in China than the entire population of Italy or the U.K. In an article published in the Great Britain-China Centre, Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, estimated the number of Protestants in China to be between 50-80 million.
[Great Britain-China Centre; The Buddhist Times “China will soon have World’s Largest Christian Population” April 1, 2009 ]
The world’s largest Bible producer is Chinese. In 2007, China’s only authorized Christian publisher celebrating a milestone as the 50 millionth Bible rolled off their presses. The publisher opened a new factory in 2008 with the capacity to print one million Bibles a month.
[ The Times UK “The book they used to burn now fires new revolution of faith in China” Dec. 8, 2007; Fox News “Chinese Factory Set to Become World’s Largest Bible Producer” Dec. 7, 2007 ]
China Facts: Catholicism in China
In 2010, China’s state-backed Catholic church ordained a bishop without papal approval from the Vatican. China and the Vatican have not had official diplomatic ties since the 1950s when Beijing expelled foreign clergy.
China is home to an estimated 10 million Catholics, most of whom belong to the Patriotic Chinese Catholic Church. However, this doesn’t include several million more Catholics who belong to an underground Catholic Church, which accepts the sole authority of the Pope in Rome to appoint new bishops.
[ BBC News “China ordains bishop despite Vatican objection” Nov. 20, 2010 ]
Final Thoughts | Religion in China
While China is a majority atheist country, there are hundreds of millions of religious believers. From popular religions like Daoism and Buddhism to fast-growing Islam and Christianity, don’t be surprised if you meet many religious people on your trip to China.
China will soon have the largest Christian population in the world, and already has more practicing believers than both the UK and Italy! While Christians may only make up a tiny percentage of the Chinese population, they are a massive force on a global scale.
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