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Religions 2018, 9(1), 22;

Diversity without Pluralism: Religious Landscape in Mainland China

Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, 11 Arts Link, #04-25, Singapore 117570, Singapore
Received: 3 October 2017 / Revised: 6 January 2018 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Diversity in a Pluralistic Society)
PDF [183 KB, uploaded 12 January 2018]


The paper explores religious diversity and pluralism in the religioscape of mainland China with three examples. While religious diversity is de facto practice, “religious pluralism” is not socially recognised, culturally legitimised, or discursively institutionalised. On the one hand, state co-option of religious groups is achieved through particular definition of “religion” without the conceptualisation of pluralism, leaving undefined religious activities to cultural policy or national security measures. On the other hand, practices that might be identified as religious elsewhere does not usually self-identified as such, not to say seek for the right of religious freedom. To explain the absence of articulated/institutionalised “religious pluralism” in China, the paper provides three examples—civil activism against tomb-levelling campaign, “the Society of Disciples” (mentuhui), and a ritual service provider. The paper argues that the religioscape of mainland China is one with de facto religious diversity without the ideology of religious pluralism, because the diverse religious practices do not make a conscious reference to pluralism, remain non-institutional, disinterested in religious freedom, and, most important of all, below the state’s radar. View Full-Text
Keywords: religious diversity; religious pluralism; China; religioscape religious diversity; religious pluralism; China; religioscape
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Liang, Y. Diversity without Pluralism: Religious Landscape in Mainland China. Religions 2018, 9, 22.

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