Taiwan
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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Chinese Religious Complex

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Chinese Folk Religionist (42.6%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Taiwan Eastern Asia World
Chinese Folk Religionist 42.6% 18.7% 4.3%
Buddhist (all denominations combined) 26.6% 19.3% 6.6%
 
  • Mahayana Buddhist
  • 26.5% 18.4% 4.3%
     
  • Other and Unknown Buddhist
  • 0.2% 0.2% 0.5%
    Taoist 12.8% 1% 0.2%
    Neoreligionist 6.8% 0.1% 0.1%
    Christian (all denominations combined) 4.6% 7.8% 29.9%
     
  • Protestant
  • 1.8% 2.3% 5.6%
     
  • Catholic
  • 1.1% 1.3% 15%
     
  • Pentecostal
  • 0.6% 0.6% 2.8%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • 1.1% 3.6% 2.3%
    Muslim (all denominations combined) 0.4% 1.5% 22.8%
     
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 0.4% 1.5% 19%
    Ethnoreligionist (incl. Animist, Shamanist) 0.3% 3.7% 2.5%
    Other Religionist 0.1% < 0.1% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 4.4% 35.6% 12%
    Unknown 1.5% 9.7% 4.8%

    Religious Demography3

    Taiwan has an area of 13,800 square miles and a population of 23 million. According to the 2006 Government Information Office Yearbook, the Religious Affairs Section of the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) estimated that 35 percent of the population consider themselves Buddhist and 33 percent Taoist. While the overwhelming majority of religious adherents are either Buddhist or Taoist, many also consider themselves both Buddhist and Taoist.

    In addition to organized religions, many persons also believe in traditional Chinese folk religions, which include some aspects of shamanism, ancestor worship, and animism. Researchers and academics estimate that as much as 80 percent of the population believes in some form of traditional folk religion. Such folk religions may overlap with an individual's belief in Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, or other traditional Chinese religions.

    Traditional Chinese religions with adherents constituting less than 5 percent of the population include: I Kuan Tao, Tien Ti Chiao (Heaven Emperor Religion), Tien Te Chiao (Heaven Virtue Religion), Li-ism, Hsuan Yuan Chiao (Yellow Emperor Religion), Tian Li Chiao (Tenrikyo), Universe Maitreya Emperor Religion, Hai Tze Tao, Zhonghua Sheng Chiao (Chinese Holy Religion), Da Yi Chiao (Great Changes Religion), Pre-cosmic Salvationism, and Huang Chung Chiao (Yellow Middle Religion).

    There also may be an overlap between practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, and other traditional Chinese religions with those of Falun Gong, which is registered as a civic, rather than a religious, organization. According to an academic source, Falun Gong membership exceeds 600,000 and continues to grow.

    Small percentages of the population consider themselves Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Sunni Muslim. The Church of Scientology, the Baha'I Faith, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mahikari Religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and the Unification Church are registered. Other Christian denominations present include Presbyterians, the True Jesus Church, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, and Episcopalians. Approximately 70 percent of the indigenous population of 484,000 Aborigines is Christian. There are also a small number of adherents of Judaism, although they are predominately expatriates.

    While the authorities do not collect or independently verify statistics on religious affiliation, they maintain registration statistics reported voluntarily by religious organizations. The MOI Religious Affairs Section believes that these statistics significantly understate the number of religious believers. The MOI Religious Affairs Section estimates that approximately 50 percent of the population regularly participates in some form of organized religious practice, as distinguished from activities connected with traditional Chinese folk religions.

    Religious beliefs cross political and geographical lines. Members of the political leadership practice a variety of faiths.

     

    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    3.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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