In the NYRB, Roderick MacFarquhar reviews Ian Johnson's new book, The Souls of China:
"Chinese religion, Johnson writes, had little to do with adherence to a particular faith. Instead, it was primarily “part of belonging to your community" ...
Johnson explains the differences between Chinese religious traditions—Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—and the “Abrahamic” faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: “Chinese religion had little theology, almost no clergy, and few fixed places of worship.” …
for Chinese it was not really a matter of choosing: the three traditional “teachings” were a smorgasbord on offer to all and sundry in the community, and representatives of each would perform on demand, and for a price, their particular rituals on appropriate occasions such as funerals. According to Johnson, “for most of Chinese history, people believed in an amalgam of these faiths that is best described as ‘Chinese Religion.’”
And: [Christian] "Missionaries persisted, and though the rate of conversion was disappointing, their influence grew through the establishment of schools, colleges, and hospitals. Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary who led the struggle that brought down the Qing dynasty in 1912, was converted, as was his successor Chiang Kai-shek. But they were infused with a modernizing zeal that held that traditional Chinese faiths, particularly folk religions, were superstitions and had to be suppressed; hundreds of thousands of folk temples were destroyed. Only the most important Buddhist and Daoist temples survived. …
"Assuming these are at least approximately accurate figures, around a third of the country’s 1.3 billion people admit to a need for a faith to sustain them."
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