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How did the Chinese Revolution affect religious practices in China?

The Chinese Revolution led to a significant suppression and transformation of religious practices in China.

The Chinese Revolution, particularly the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, had a profound impact on religious practices in China. The Communist Party, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, sought to eradicate religion as part of their broader campaign to eliminate old customs, culture, habits, and ideas. They viewed religion as a form of feudal superstition that was incompatible with their Marxist-Leninist ideology. As a result, religious practices were heavily suppressed, and many religious institutions were destroyed or repurposed.

Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity, and many other religions were targeted during this period. Temples, churches, and mosques were often confiscated, destroyed, or turned into factories, schools, or other secular institutions. Religious texts were burned, and religious leaders were often persecuted, imprisoned, or forced to renounce their faith. Many religious practices were driven underground, and public expressions of faith became risky.

However, the suppression of religion was not entirely successful, and many people continued to practice their faith in secret. In some cases, the persecution of religion even led to a strengthening of religious beliefs and practices. For example, some Christian communities became more tightly knit and committed to their faith in response to the persecution they faced.

In addition to suppressing traditional religious practices, the Communist Party also sought to replace them with new forms of worship centred around the state and its leaders. Mao Zedong himself was often deified, with his portrait displayed in homes and public places, and his writings treated as sacred texts. This form of political religion, known as Maoism, became a dominant force in Chinese society during the Cultural Revolution.

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, there has been a gradual relaxation of restrictions on religious practices in China. However, the legacy of the Chinese Revolution continues to shape religious life in the country. Many religious communities remain underground or semi-underground, and the state maintains strict control over religious institutions. At the same time, new forms of spirituality and religious practice have emerged, reflecting the ongoing transformation of religious life in post-revolutionary China.

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