New Believers: A Religious Revolution In China
In China, Mazu, a folk goddess of the sea, has an estimated 160 million followers and 4,000 temples devoted to her. Here, a statue of Mazu from a village temple is paraded around Meizhou Island in southern China's Fujian province during recent birthday celebrations.
In China, the vast following of a folk goddess of the sea illustrates the remarkable rebirth of local popular religion since the Cultural Revolution. Now, China's communist leaders are supporting worship of Mazu as "cultural heritage" and using it to advance their own political and economic goals.
July 22, 2010 In recent years, China's communist government has taken a new, proactive approach to religion. In particular, it has bolstered support for Buddhism, which provides needed charity work and financial aid — and also serves as a counterweight to the explosion of Christianity in China.
July 21, 2010 Muslims in China have developed their own set of practices with Chinese characteristics. The biggest difference is the development of independent women's mosques with female imams leading the prayers. But now, economics — not the state or resistance inside Islam — threaten their survival.
July 20, 2010 China's 12 million Catholics have been bitterly divided for decades. Some belong to Beijing-sanctioned churches, while others worship in "underground" churches loyal to the Vatican. Even though Pope Benedict XVI has urged reconciliation, China's Catholics have struggled to follow his instructions.
July 18, 2010 Alongside China's astonishing economic boom, an almost unnoticed religious boom has been taking place. The collapse of the communist ideology created a void that has left many Chinese looking for a value system. NPR looks at the trend in a five-part series beginning Monday on All Things Considered.