There are many religions in China, such as Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Among them Buddhism, Daoism and Islam are more widely accepted. It is difficult to count the number of Buddhist and Daoist believers, since there are no strict admittance rites. Minority nationalities such as the Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Tatar, Tajik, Uzbek, Kirgiz, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan believe in Islam, a total of 17 million people. There are 3.5 million and 4.5 million people in China following Catholicism and Protestantism respectively.
China's Constitution stipulates that citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief. The state protects normal religious activities and the lawful rights and interests of the religious circles. The Criminal Law, Civil Law, Electoral Law, Military Service Law and Compulsory Education Law and some other laws make clear and specific provisions protecting religious freedom and equal rights of religious citizens. No state organ, social organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. State functionaries who illegally deprive a citizen of the freedom of religious belief shall be investigated, and legal responsibility affixed where due according to Article 147 of the Criminal Law.
The government has established departments of religious affairs
responsible for the implementation of the policy of religious freedom. During the
"cultural revolution," the government's
With the support and help of the Chinese government, religious facilities destroyed during the "cultural revolution" have gradually been restored and repaired. By the end of 1989, more than 40,000 monasteries, temples and churches had been restored and opened to the public upon approval of the governments at various levels. Houses and land used for religious purposes are exempted from taxes. Temples, monasteries and churches which need repair but lack money get assistance from the government. Since 1980, financial allocations from the central government for the maintenance of temples, monasteries and churches have reached over 140 million yuan. The maintenance of the Potala Palace in Tibet received 35 million yuan from the government. Local governments also allocated funds for the maintenance of temples, monasteries and churches.
There are now eight national religious organizations in China. They
are: the China Buddhist Association, the China Daoist Association, the China Islamic
Association, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the National Administration
Commission of the Chinese Catholic Church, the Chinese Catholic Bishops College, the
Three-Self Patriotic Movement Committee of the Protestant Churches of China and the China
Christian Council. There are also 164 provincial-level and more than 2,000 county-level
religious organizations. All religious organizations and all religious citizens can
independently organize religious activities and perform their religious duties under the
protection of the Constitution and the law. There are 47 religious colleges in China, such
as the Chinese Institute of Buddhist Studies, the Institute of Islamic Theology, the
In China, because of these policies, different religions and religious organizations as well as religious people and nonreligious people respect each other and live in harmony.
The religious freedom that Chinese citizens enjoy under the Constitution and the law entails certain obligations stipulated by the same. The Constitution makes it clear that no one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of other citizens or interfere with the state's educational system. Those who engage in criminal activities under the subterfuge of religion shall be dealt with according to law, whether they are religious people or not. Law-breaking believers, like other law-breaking citizens, are dealt with according to law. Among the religious people who were dealt with according to law, some were engaged in subversion against the state regime or activities endangering national security, some instigated the masses to defy state laws and regulations, others incited the masses to infighting that seriously disturbed public order, and still others swindled money, molested other people physically and mentally and seduced women in the name of religion. In short, none of them were arrested only because of their religious beliefs.
Guided by the principles of independence, self-rule and
The Chinese government actively supports Chinese religious
organizations and religious personnel in their friendly exchanges with foreign religious
organizations and personnel on the basis of independence, equality and mutual respect.
International relationships between religious circles are regarded as part of the
non-governmental exchange of the Chinese people with other peoples of the world. In recent
years, Chinese religious organizations have established and developed friendly relations
with more than 70 countries and regions and sent delegations to many international
religious conferences and symposiums. Chinese religious groups have joined world religious
groups such as the World Fellowship of Buddhists, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs,
the World Conference on Religion and Peace, the Asian Conference on Religion and