Religion and the State: People’s Republic of China and Taiwan

by Richard Madsen
March 9, 2006

Richard Madsen

There is a very different relationship between religion and the state in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the one hand and Taiwan on the other. In the PRC the relationship is contentious, in Taiwan relatively harmonious. It was not always this way. In the 1950s and 1960s, both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the PRC and the Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan set up structures to control religious activity, while putting out propaganda discouraging most forms of religious belief and practice. The evolution of religion-state relationships in Taiwan involved not only the transformation of political structures but also the creative development of new forms of religious belief and practice among the Taiwanese middle classes. How did this evolution take place in Taiwan? Under what conditions it could happen in the PRC?

Richard Madsen is Professor and Chair of the department of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego. He received an MA in Asian studies and a Ph. D. in sociology from Harvard. He is the author, or co-author of eleven books on Chinese culture, American culture, and international relations. He has also written scholarly articles on how to compare cultures and how to facilitate dialogue among them.