Chinese Religions

Religions of the World - Questions, Challenges, and New Directions - Leslie Dorrough Smith

Leslie Dorrough Smith [+-]
Avila University
Leslie Dorrough Smith is Professor of Religious Studies at Avila University and a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty.
Steven W Ramey [+-]
University of Alabama
Steven W. Ramey is a Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program.


This chapter explores and then interrogates four different representations of Chinese Religion. The first focuses on the Three Teachings. This term, referencing Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, shows how many who identify as Chinese see them as complementary teachings rather than completely separate religions. The second representation emphasizes devotional practices as the most important component of Chinese Religion. These practices generally incorporate devotion to divine figures without emphasizing the tradition (if any) with which they are classically affiliated. The third representation identifies filial piety, the notion of respecting parents and elders above personal interests, as the main component of Chinese religion. The final representation connects the practices and discourses of Chinese religions to the process of legal classification, which is most evident in the recognition of five official religions within the government of contemporary China.

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Dorrough Smith, Leslie; Ramey, Steven. Chinese Religions. Religions of the World - Questions, Challenges, and New Directions. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jan 2024. ISBN 9781800503762. Date accessed: 21 Sep 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44596. Jan 2024

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