What is the Religion of China? A Comprehensive Overview!

what is the religion of China

China is a country with old dynasties and beautiful scenery. The people here are as diverse as the land they live in. But when it comes to religion, it’s a bit different.

Unlike places where one faith is most common, China has a mix of different religions same Japan. It’s like a colorful tapestry, with each religion adding its special color to the cultural picture.

So, what is the religion of China? Let’s find out.

What is the Religion of China?

The CIA World Factbook says a bit more than half of the people in China (52.2%) don’t follow any particular religion. It’s important to know that many Chinese folks don’t see traditional Chinese ideas like Confucianism as religions.

They think of them more like ways of looking at life that can go along with other religions, like Buddhism. Even if someone in China doesn’t call themselves religious, they often know about or feel connected to these traditional Chinese ideas. They still have a big impact on how people act and what they do.

So, out of the people, 21.9% follow folk religion, 18.2% follow Buddhism, 5.1% follow Christianity, and 1.8% follow Islam. The rest, 0.7%, follow some other tradition, and less than 0.1% follow Hinduism or Judaism.

A lot changed in China during the first part of the 1900s because of political and social upheavals. This had a big impact on the beliefs of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism (except in Tibet).

Since the late 1940s, China officially doesn’t follow any religion, but it allows people to practice their beliefs if they follow certain rules. Today, many people in China follow different religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.

They can go to temples, mosques, and churches, and religious groups can meet, pray, and do things related to their faith. But, the government keeps an eye on them. If they don’t follow the rules, they might go to jail or face other restrictions. Even foreigners can get in trouble for sharing religious books and papers while in China.

Some religions, like Tibetan Buddhism, have faced hard times and persecution. The Chinese government is careful about groups it sees as a threat, like the Falun Gong movement. 

Also, doing religious activities without permission can lead to jail or other limits. But, slowly, the Chinese government has started to relax some strict rules on practicing some popular religion.

What is Confucianism Religion in China?

What is Confucianism Religion in China

Confucianism isn’t exactly a religion but more like traditional practices. Lots of Chinese people believe in it. It comes from the ideas of Confucius, who said having good relationships is key. Confucianism says people have different roles, like ruler and subject, husband and wife, or father and son.

If everyone accepts these roles, things stay calm and good in society. Important values are respecting others, doing your duty, and being loyal to family. Chinese folks also remember and honor their ancestors every day. Even with modern changes, many still follow Confucian ideas.

What is Taoism Religion in China?

Taoism, also called ‘Daoism,’ comes from the ideas of a wise person named Laozi in ancient China, around 2,500 years ago. Taoism says everything in the world is connected, and it cares about being close to nature and growing as a person.

The main idea in Taoism is ‘Tao,’ which means ‘the Way.’ It’s like the One, showing how things can come together and work well. You might have heard about Yin and Yang in Taoism, where opposites, like light and dark or high and low, balance each other out.

Taoists want to be in harmony with nature, grow spiritually, do things like Tai Chi, and build good qualities through meditation and ‘feng shui.’

What is Mahayana Buddhism Religion in China?

Buddhism is a way of thinking and living that started with the Buddha’s teachings. The main idea is the ‘Four Noble Truths,’ which say that following the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ can free us from life’s constant problems. 

In China, the most liked type of Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism, a bit different from the original in India. Mahayana Buddhism talks about being good and helping others to reach enlightenment.

Also, there are two main kinds of Mahayana Buddhism: ‘Ch’an’ (also called ‘Zen’ in Japan) and ‘Pure Land.’ Ch’an says meditation in everyday life can free us, while Pure Land is for those who find meditation hard, focusing more on chanting and paying attention.

What is Vajrayana Buddhism Religion in China?

What is Vajrayana Buddhism Religion in China

In China, another kind of Buddhism is Vajrayana Buddhism, often known as ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ because it’s linked to Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhism, people respect teachers called ‘Lama.’ The 14th Dalai Lama, Lhamo Dondrub, is a famous leader in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism has different practices, like tantric traditions and mantras (repeating words or sounds to focus).

Tibetan Buddhism also shows Tibetan identity and plays a big part in the difficulties between China and Tibet. Before China took Tibet, it was a religious place with the Dalai Lama as the leader. In the 1950s, difficulties in Lhasa made the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans go to northern India. In the 1960s, China said Tibet was its place, and they destroyed many temples.

Since the 1960s, Tibetans outside and, since the 1980s, Tibetans in China, have built many monasteries again. Recently, Tibetan symbols, like mandalas, are seen in other places. Also, Buddhism is slowly coming back, keeping Tibetan ways while working with Chinese leaders. Tibet has seen protests since the late 2000s, asking for the freedom to make choices and to follow their beliefs.


What is China’s main religion?

China has the most people who follow Buddhism, around 185–250 million, says Freedom House. Even though Buddhism started in India, it’s been in China for a long time and is the biggest religion there.

Does Chinese believe in God?

About 40% of grown-up Chinese say they believe in at least one of these: Buddha, Taoist gods, ghosts, or other gods like Jesus and Allah. And 20% believe in more than one of these ideas about gods.

How much of China is atheist?

China officially says it doesn’t follow any religion. They say 91% of the country’s people don’t have a religion, according to World Population Review in 2023.

What Religions Are banned in China?

The leaders of China, who are part of the Chinese Communist Party, want people not to follow any religion. They say the 281 million Chinese who are in the CCP or its youth groups can’t do many spiritual things.

What is the most popular religion of China?

Many people in China follow Buddhism. It’s the most popular religion there.

Summing Up

In China, people follow different religions, making it a diverse place. Unlike some countries with just one main faith, China has many threads of different beliefs woven together. Each religion adds its color to the cultural fabric.

So, what is the religion of China? It’s like a mix of various beliefs that together create a vibrant tapestry.

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