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“Before, I thought of religious faith as pure, but now it confuses me … With patriotism interfering with spiritual life, there is no space at all for individual thought. Is this what a harmonious society looks like?” Another wrote: “The Buddha and Marx have shaken hands … Buddhism is meant to cultivate the mind, body and spirit – what has it got to do with politics? Haven’t the monks in the monastery renounced worldly living? I feel uncomfortable and just think that raising the national flag at the temple is simply not appropriate.” Chinese Hui Muslim protest forces authorities to halt plan to demolish Weizhou Grand Mosque Tsui Chung-hui, of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Buddhist Studies, said Buddhist scripture already required its followers to respect the state. “The government does not need to take pains to promote [this] and monasteries also do not need to pander to politics,” Tsui said on Tuesday. “They should let monks dedicate themselves to Buddhism and not waste their time performing various political propaganda activities.” China has recently come under the spotlight for its efforts to clamp down on minority religions including Islam and Christianity, which it associates with foreign influence or ethnic separatism. Mosques and churches flying the national flag have become an increasingly common sight in China amid the crackdown. Christian heartland on front lines of China’s campaign of religious suppression Beijing officially recognises five religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism – with Taoism the only indigenous one. Buddhism, though it originated in India, has also been accepted as a Chinese religion, having been, apart from Tibetan Buddhism, integrated into Han culture through the ebb and flow of dynasties. Overseeing these religions is the National Religious Affairs Administration, which was set up this year.
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An estimated quarter of American Buddhists are considered “converts” from traditional Christianity, Judaism, or secularist philosophies. Religion scholar Peter N. Gregory emphasizes that Buddhism encompasses a wide range of traditions, rituals, and philosophies , developing as it did in diverse cultures from India through Southeast Asia. Identifying who is a Buddhist is an arduous task for researchers. Self-reported Buddhists can include the immigrant who carefully follows prescribed rituals, along with the so-called “nightstand” Buddhists, who never actually attend meetings or engage in formal rituals but appreciate Buddhist philosophical tenets of self-control and internal peace. Researchers often see a distinct difference between immigrant Buddhism and those who have embraced its tenets as individuals seeking spiritual enlightenment.
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