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  • Author: Richard Madsen
  • Publication Date: 01-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Religion is flourishing in China today. After being severely restricted in the first decade and a half of the Maoist era, virtually all forms of public religious practice were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution and replaced by a quasi-religious cult of Mao, complete with sacred texts (the Little Red Book), rituals, and claims of miracles. But the Mao cult imploded amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. After the death of Mao and the overthrow of his close associates, the Deng Xiaoping regime relaxed restrictions on religious practice; and the freedoms of an expanding market economy made the remaining restrictions easy to subvert. In this environment, hundreds of religious flowers began to bloom, some of them replications of pre-revolutionary religious forms, many others new mutations of the old. According to the government's own—almost certainly underestimated—figures, there are over 100 million religious believers in China today. The real number is probably several times as large.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: China, Israel, East Asia, Asia