Religions in China

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A Brief Introduction of China's Religions

China's main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Christianity. Religions with fewer adherents are the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity and numerous regional faiths, as practiced by China's ethnic minorities.

Buddhism was brought to China from India in about the first century AD and slowly divided into three branches, depending on which language group was practicing it, Han, Bali or Tibetan, the Tibetan form is now also known as Lamaism. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many practitioners of Buddhism exist in China, especially among the speakers of Han Chinese, since Buddhism is widely distributed and keeps no formal records of newcomers to the faith. We do know that there are 9500 temples, monasteries and convents throughout the country, run by 170000 monks and nuns.

Lamaism is found mainly among such minorities as Tibetans, Mongols and Tu, Naxi, Pumi and Menba ethnic groups.

The form belonging to the Bali family of languages is practiced by the Dai, Bulang, De'ang, Va and Achang.

The national organization of Buddhism is the Chinese Buddhist Association. It was founded in 1953 and today supervises 14 institutes of Buddhist studies. Its mot important publication is its national journal, The Voice of Buddhist Teaching.

Taoism is a religion that originated in China, appearing around the second century AD. Its two branches are called Chuan Chen Tao and Zheng Yi Tao. Again, while the number of believers is quite large, the exact total is not known. Six hundred Taoist temples are opened to the public across China, and about 6000 Taoist monks and nuns live and worship in them. The Taoist Association of China was founded in 1957 and runs one Taoist institute of studies. It publishes China's Taoism.

Islam was introduced to China in the seventh century...