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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 10:12, March 17, 2007
Major religions co-exist in harmony in China
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A harmonious society: theme of religious leaders in two sessions

Lamas in dark red cassocks, Taoists with long hair up in a bun and wearing Hunyuan hats, monks in yellow robes��during the annual "two sessions", it's easy to pick the leaders of China's major religions in Beijing.

These religious leaders represent about 100 million religious followers of the main religions in the country �C Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity.

During the first meeting of religious members at the 5th Session of the 10th CPPCC National Committee, religious leaders chose "a harmonious society" as the theme of their speech.

President of the Buddhist Association of China Master Yicheng, said that the Buddhist notion of "harmony and mercy"can play a unique role in promoting social harmony.

Vice president of the China Islamic Association, Ding Wenfang, said that Islam advocates happiness in two worlds (this world and the hereafter), which means enjoying the harmonious co-existence of society and people.

Huang Xinyang, vice president of the China Taoist Association, said that Taoists have always believed in "living always with love and kindness, and all living creatures are equal".

Vice president of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China Deng Fucun said, "Noble people live in harmony and diversity. We can easily find this notion in our conference. It also summarizes the status of China's five major religions."

People with a religious conscience pursuing social harmony

Today, religious contradictions and conflicts cause instability in some countries and regions. But in China, believers of different religious live together in harmony.

Shi Yongxin, an abbot at Shaolin Temple and an NPC deputy said, "The goal of building a harmonious society proposed by the CPC is also the goal of religious people."

This common belief has enabled religious groups to reach an uncoordinated consensus on many issues. Back in 1994, representatives of five major religions established China Committee on Religion and Peace. The main objective of the Committee is to promote "friendship, peace, development and cooperation."

At the "two sessions", religious representatives and members generally supported Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's government work report and offered their advice and suggestions.

Deputy Liu Bainian, vice-Chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association suggested that hotels accepting foreign guests in Beijing should provide Bibles during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Master Gen Tong, vice chairman of the Buddhist Association of China proposed that China formulate an "anti-cult law"as soon as possible.

Many representatives of religious communities have made proposals related to new rural construction, environmental protection, narrowing the gap between rich and poor and other issues.

Currently, there are nearly 170,000 religious followers serving on China's NPC and CPPCC at various levels. They submit a large number of proposals related to national economic, social and religious development every year.

A society in which different religions co-exist in harmony is taking shape

"Because of differences in origin, historical evolution, and the current situation, various religions are different from each other. Even the same religion appears different in the context of different regions and countries. However, these differences do not affect their ability to coexist,"said vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, Xuecheng.

Xuecheng was the abbot of Guanghua Temple in Putian, Fujian Province. Near Guanghua Temple, there is a village called Dingtou Village. Catholicism was first introduced to this village in early times. In the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynast, Catholics and Buddhists had an "etiquette dispute". Today, of the 5,000 villagers living in the Dingtou Village, most are Catholics but some are Buddhists. However, they live together in harmony and happiness.

A year ago, Master Xuecheng began a blog on the Internet. "There are Christians, Muslims and Catholics among my readers. They are all very friendly,"Xuecheng said.

Religious followers attribute this harmony to the religious policy of the country. Although the ruling Communist Party and its members believe in an atheist China, the Constitution strictly stipulates that citizens be given freedom of religious belief, and the state protects normal religious activities.

"The Communist Party of China has established favorable conditions and a sound environment for the five major religions to co-exist in harmony,"Deng Fucun said.

According to incomplete statistics, since 1980, the central government has allocated more than 140 million yuan to the maintenance of Buddhist and Taoist Temples in China.

However, the Chinese government also firmly prohibits divisions within the country and social unrest caused by religious differences.

Li Xiangping, professor of the Center for Research for Religion and Peace at Shanghai University, specially investigated the current religious situation in China. According to Li, "a harmonious society in which religions co-exist is taking shape."

By People's Daily Online

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