Confucianists Seek Religious Status in China

May 22, 2006

Source: United Press International

On May 22, 2006 the United Press International reported, "Confucianists in Hong Kong are seeking inclusion among religions recognized by the Chinese government, on a par with Buddhism, Taosim, Christianity and Islam.

Tong Yun-kai, president of Hong Kong's Confucian Academy, is leading the campaign to register Confucianism as a major Chinese religion, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.

Only officially recognized groups are afforded protection under China's religious freedom rules. They are subject to government supervision and can only preach inside designated temples, churches and mosques.

There are no official figures for the number of Confucianists in China. However, over 1,600 Confucian temples are registered as academic institutes. The government has also set up numerous Confucian centers overseas as a platform to promote Chinese language and culture.

Tong said that Confucian thought -- which stresses benevolence and loyalty to the family and the country -- would gain prestige and raise national pride if it were registered as a religion.

Some critics of his view, however, feel that Confucianists enjoy greater freedom and flexibility without being labeled as religious believers, since most of China's religious laws are aimed at controlling and curbing the spread of ideas."