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“The Religious Question in Modern China” by David Palmer

“The Religious Question in Modern China”by David Palmer

Nov. 30, 2012 – 12:30 pm, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University – Washington D.C

For my second D.C. event assignment I attended a conference at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. The Religious Question in Modern China it’s a book written by Dr. David Palmer, a professor at the Department of Sociology at Hong Kong University.

During the event, Dr. Palmer discussed the cultural movements and religion in China, and how these things have shaped the current secular state of China. He discussed the different religions in current day China such as Christianity Buddhism, Daoism, Muslim, and some other minor ritualistic religions. He further talked about how Daosim expressed local culture Buddhism expresses civilization and Christianity is the “Seed of Secularization” and how ritual traditions are different due to all the social forces in China. Moreover, Dr. Palmer also talked about his theory of the 3 scenarios:

  1. 1)  The 1st scenario = The Western Model: Which reflects the freedom of religion in
    which governments would allow their citizens more space for expression of religious beliefs. Foe ex. The privatization of Religion – by opening religious businesses in China.
  2. 2)  The 2nd Scenario = The Qing Dynasty Model: Which creates and promotes directly and indirectly Maoism, Buddhism, Daoism and the idea of “reincarnation” – as well as the new era idea of “applying for reincarnation.”
  3. 3)  The 3rd Scenario = Which talks about the Government going back to ritualistic religion and becoming a “Spiritual Utopia,” the resurrection of Maoism, Marcisist & socialist ideology. He explained that this scenario cannot come to a full circle because people don’t want the state to have full control of government.

Furthermore, the author talked about the issue of “western culture” in China and how “westerners” believed China had no religion because of the comparison made with the western experience of Christianity. Additionally, he talked about the “sacred” and the “traditional ritualistic” religions in the Villages of Southern China, as well as the “profane.” Also, the constant battle against the Chinese Government corrupting everything it touches and how is always trying to fall back on the “religion by the emperor” idea, in order to have absolute control of the nation. The closing remarks stated that the “Religious Question” is “Evolution.” Dr. Palmer explained that cultural creativity has been going on for sometime now due to the fact that nothing is cast in stone; therefore, the future of religion in China is wide open.

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