Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China

Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China

Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China

Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China

Synopsis

Making Religion, Making the State combines cutting-edge perspectives on religion with rich empirical data to offer a challenging new argument about the politics of religion in modern China. The volume goes beyond extant portrayals of the opposition of state and religion to emphasize their mutual constitution. It examines how the modern category of "religion" is enacted and implemented in specific locales and contexts by a variety of actors from the late nineteenth century until the present. With chapters written by experts on Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam, and more, this volume will appeal across the social sciences and humanities to those interested in politics, religion, and modernity in China.

Excerpt

Yoshiko Ashiwa and David L. Wank

An astounding revival of religion has occurred in China since the late 1970s. China now has the world's largest Buddhist population, fastgrowing Catholic and Protestant congregations, expanding Muslim communities, and active Daoist temples. According to state statistics there are 100 million religious believers, 85,000 religious sites (churches, mosques, temples), 300,000 clergy, and 3,000 religious organizations. Buddhism has more than 13,000 temples and monasteries and 200,000 monks and nuns, while, additionally, Tibetan Buddhism has over 3,000 monasteries, 120,000 lamas, and 1,700 living Buddhas. Daoism has 1,500 temples and 25,000 masters. in Islam there are 30,000 mosques, 40,000 imams, and 18 million believers. Catholicism has over 4,000 churches, 4,000 clergy, and 4 million believers. Protestantism has 12,000 churches, over 25,000 meeting places, 18,000 clerics, and 10 million believers (Information Office of the State Council 1997).

These statistics on the revival of religion in China, which is ruled by a communist party that is avowedly atheist, stimulate various interpretations. They could be seen as signifying the victory of religious believers over the state. Attempts by the Chinese Communist Party (Party) to eradicate religion during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) failed; belief can never be conquered by political ideologies such as communism. the statistics could also be seen as part of the Chinese state control of religion; they are inaccurate numbers based on offcially registered religious sites. Many of these religious sites are fronts for tourism and museums and contain few . . .

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