Place of Worship in Beijing
Buddhism, the dominant religious philosophy in China, first arrived during the Han Dynasty and played a central role in Chinese culture and history. Generally speaking, Buddhism in China can be categorized into Han, Tibetan and Southern Buddhism. Chinese Buddhism refers collectively to the various schools of Buddhist thought that have flourished in China since ancient times. These schools have integrated the ideas of Confucianism, Taoism and other indigenous philosophical systems so that what was initially a foreign religion (the buddhadharma from India) came to be a natural part of Chinese civilization, albeit with its own unique character.
Buddhism has played an enormous role in shaping the mindset of the Chinese people. Chinese aesthetics, politics, literature, philosophy and medicine have all been greatly influenced by Buddhism. During the Tang Dynasty Chinese Buddhism peaked and produced numerous spiritual masters of outstanding brilliance. Their legacy is among China's greatest treasures.
Beijing houses many celebrated Buddhist temples.
Taoism is the only religious doctrine that actually originated in China. As with Buddhism, a philosophical, then religious tradition, it has, with Confucianism, shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. The doctrine derives from the philosophical ideas of Laozi, an outstanding Chinese philosopher. The key concept in Taoism revolves around "the Way," variously interpreted as either a philosophical or religious guidance system for all people interested in Taoism. At one time, it was used as a governing tool, but today it survives both as a religious tradition and as a philosophy. The most common representation of Taoist theology is the circular Yin Yang figure: a symbol of existing opposites in perfect balance. When they are both equally present, all is calm; when one outweighs the other, confusion and chaos appear.
The first time Christianity came into China was in 635AD, arriving as a Nestorian Church, but it survived only briefly. In the 1800s, Christianity reentered China from the West, but unfortunately this religion was linked with colonialism. Later, in order to break away from the old image of "foreign religion", Chinese Protestant Christians initiated the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in 1950, and set up the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement has achieved much. Churches in China have realized the principles of self-governance, self-support and self-propagation. In Chinese we deem this moving from "Three-Selves to Three-Wells").
Under the guidance of Three-Self principles, Chinese churches have entered into a post-denominational period: institutional Protestant denominations do not exist any longer. In 1958, unified worship services were initiated. In the spirit of mutual respect, Christians with different faiths and liturgical backgrounds now worship God together. From 1966 to 1976, under the influence of ultra-leftist thought during the Culture Revolution, Christian churches were closed. In 1979 they began reopening, and in 1980 the China Christian Council (CCC) was established. From that time onward both the national church organizations, the CCC and the TSPM, have complemented each other and built up the body of Christ together.
To date, there are 16 million believers in China, more than 55 thousand churches and meeting points, approximately 2,700 pastors (associate pastors included), 27 thousand pastoral personnel (pastors, associate pastors, elders and preachers), 18 seminaries and Bible schools, and several training centers.
There are several churches within Beijing, including the Eastern Church (Wangfujing Catholic Church), Western Church (Xizhimen Church), Southern Church (Xuanwumen Catholic Church), Northern Church (Xishiku Catholic Church), St. Michael's Church, Nangangzi Church, Pingfang Church and Dongguantou Church. There are also many miscelaneous churches located in Beijing's suburbs.
Islam arrived in China during the Tang and Song dynasties (618 BC-AD 1279) through trade links. From the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Islam became an independent religion in China, and many of its followers came from ethnic groups in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There are now about 20 million Chinese Muslims. There are more than 40 mosques in Beijing that are open to the public.