Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Religion in Taiwan

Posted by shirleyy on November 29, 2006

Taiwan is a country full of diversity. Due to the races and culture, we can get the idea Taiwan is open to foreign things, not to mention the religions are of the same kinds. In the western world, the Crusade did fight for religion difference. However, unlike mainland China, in Taiwan, we have absolutely freedom of religion, and believers of all religions get along peacefully.

According to the article on Wikipedia, originally, there was only nature worship which Taiwanese aborigines believed. Few years later, with the dominion of the Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese migrants, they brought Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism to Taiwan. Since then, people in Taiwan have got the freedom of choosing their own religion, instead of being partly oppressed like Chinese people.

In order to get a concrete idea of the religions list below, I think the author should add some examples to show how the religions affect Taiwanese society. Take the blended religion for example, the most famous religious activity is the tour of Dajia Matsu holy pilgrimage. This pilgrimage began from the Ching Dynasty, and it last eight days. What’s more, the tour is about 280 km to go. No matter what the motives of the followers are in this pilgrimage, they all have the devoted hearts toward Matsu. Growing up in a small town where every year the Dajia Matsu holy pilgrimage will stay at for one night, I’ve been looking at their march for many years. However, recently, I’ve found out something different from what I saw in the childhood: people who used to raise the shrine on their shoulder have become younger, in my personal opinion, some of them are somewhat “playful”. In addition, there are more and more “electronic floats?” (電子花車) in their march. Does Matsu like to hear pop remix songs? I think the idea of the pilgrimage has been distorted in some way.

After saving the donation from all walks of life for many years, some mainstream religions have started to set up organizations to help those in need. Take Buddhism for example, the well-known leader might be the Master Cheng Yen. She set up the Tzu-chi foundation, advocating people being volunteers in social work. Their kindness is spread throughout the world. No matter which country has a catastrophe, the Tzu-chi volunteer would offer their help as soon as possible. Recent years, due to the globalization, Christmas has become a meaningful festival for Taiwanese. It provides another good chance for people to give their warm blessings in this cold December. On the other hand, as for the similarity, both Buddhism and Christianity set up hospitals, schools, and orphanages. Speaking of the social education, they both offer camps or courses to help people to gain knowledge. The famous English-learning magazine “The Studio Classroom” is a good example which does a great favor in improving Taiwanese’s English level. Besides, both Buddhism and Christianity have their own TV channel to let people understand their belief more. The Da-Ai channel which belongs to Buddhism is known for their pure quality of their news broadcast and drama. Without the politics, scandal, paparazzi, pornography and violence, this channel is still popular. The Good channel which belongs to Christianity has relaxing religious songs, English-teaching programs, programs that talk about the God etc. It makes people get closer to their own belief. Although the Confucianism is not like the so-called religion, it has great influence on Taiwanses’ daily life and personal character. As the author mentions, “Confucian temples are not places of worship, but rather memorial halls honoring Confucius.” he’s so good a model of teacher that we pay much respects on him.

Speaking of Islam, though it’s a mainstream religion, it has fewer believers than the religions that I mentioned above in Taiwan. Beside the affairs of Islam country, we seldom hear the news about Islam in Taiwan on TV. Although the indonesian workers bring in the Muslims, according to a statistics of Executive Yuan, there are only 20,000 dedicated Taiwanese Muslims left.

Looking at the “History” part, the article has been revised many times because of the diction or spelling. Comparing the former ones, the paragraph of Islam changed more than other religion did. The former one talks about “There was no spread of Islam and no mosques were built”. Time passed, though it’s not as prosperous as other religions, now we have 6 mosques in Taiwan. What’s more, the present version mentions about the Indonesia workers add the number of Muslims in Taiwan, this point has been also be modified recently. With the change of labor policy, more and more southern-west foreign labors come to Taiwan to find a job. As for the “Discussion” part, there’s no discussion being brought up.

The diversity has been the feature of Taiwan. Except for the Elmer Gantrys who sometimes deceive people of their money or even body, in fact there is no so-called good or bad religion. As long as it teaches people to be good, then we can accept it and even appreciate it. The miscellaneous religion has made Taiwan a more liberal society. I think this is the point we should be proud of. (2006/11/29 )

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