I want to know if it is true that religion is illegal in China? I've seen television shows where it shows religious people being persecuted. Are these things true or not?
Religion in China is a complicated matter. The CCP party in China since it's foundation discouraged religion and religious activities. Officially because it was atheist but in reality because it believed religion was a dangerous alternative credo to communism. Despite this, people in China continued to practise their religious beliefs traditional stuff like ancestry worship and Buddhism were generally ignored and little action was taken against religious types. Then Mao managed to mess up the Chinese economy big time. The great leap forward steel making experiment. The famines etc left the CCP in a weakened state as people lost the faith, people started questioning the CCP. Mao's solution to this was the cultural revolution where crack downs and persecution really did exist. Such that people pretended to be atheists or did their religious activities behind closed doors. During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, large-scale religious persecutions were carried out and thousands of temples and churches destroyed. Which is why most temples in China are actually replicas as they were rebuilt after some smart so and so realised they could be used as tourist traps.
This changes in the 1980s though with Deng Xiaoping. Simply once he had wrestled power from the rest of the CCP, he introduced doubt..
"You know guys, what we've been doing hasn't really been working so maybe we should try something different?"
Thus in 1982, the constitution was amended to allow Chinese people some overt freedom of religion. Thus in China you can practice any of the mainstream and less mainstream religions in China. However it is like talking about the CCP, doing it behind doors in your home and in cafes etc is fine. Standing on a soapbox and proclaiming and preaching to others is most definitely NOT ok. TCG feels ambivalence towards this as TCG is target for militant converters in town centres. Muslims, Christians, Baptists etc will all approach me and attempt to save my soul. This is deeply irritating and has led to nigh on beatings as I joke about their religions this is no longer allowed in the UK as freedom of speech is severely curtailed in the UK. People who joke about things on twitter are now considered terrorists. On Wednesday a guy joked about a journalist who should be stoned to death. He was arrested for this comment. It's funny not in a comical way that in the UK we now have to watch what we say. While in the past we would make disparaging comments about politicians that they should be shot. This isn't allowed anymore.... how ironic eh?
There are three big religions in China, Daoism, Confucianism, ancestor worship and Buddhism. Islam and Christianity are also but present in smaller numbers in China despite the huge number of obvious missionary looking types all over the country. (They look like Micheal Douglas in falling down)
There is however one exception, cults. This is shared amongst many countries. For example :
USA - The Waco siege. Where the ATF went up against the Brach Dravidian's.
UK - Al Macaroon(sp?) Which was a sub sect of Islam. Was banned and their leaders arrested as terrorists. There are many examples even set ups. But this is a debate for another time.
China of course has Falun Gong.
The CCP is very anti cult, except for their own cult of Mao personality and their own cult of power. Look at how awesome we are in China type thing. This is like the above where governments simply don't like cults and also it stems from history. As cults tend to
The government is still anti-'cult'. This stems from the large numbers of cults which helped to bring down past Chinese governments - the divine fists (Boxers) for instance The communists are suspicious of any group that could claim people's loyalty. Thus Falun Gong remains banned.
So if you go to China as a religious type, its not as if they'll kick down your door and send you to the Laogai for practicing your religion. Preaching on the other hand will get you into trouble. Except maybe the cult of money which is WIDELY practiced in China.
Lampooned in the film Armor of God (A 1980s Jackie Chan film)