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In Taiwan, people are free to have any religious preference. At present, there are 12 religions recognized by the government in Taiwan including the Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hsuan-Yuan Chiao, Idam, Li-ism, Tenrikyo, Baha'i Faith, T'ien Dih Chiao, T'ien Te Chiao, and I-Kuan-Tao. The Buddhism is the biggest religious sects and has about 5,000,000 believers. It was introduced to Taiwan by immigrants from Fuchien and Kuangtung Provinces at the end of the Ming Dynasty. Taoism, which has close links with folk religion, entered Taiwan in the mid-17th century and has up to 3,000,000 followers. Catholicism and Protestantism can trace their earliest beginnings in Taiwan to the 17th century but had limited influences on Taiwan society. Now the number of believers is over 1,000,000. In general, about 11.2 millions of people (over a half of population) adhere themselves of above religions.

In Taiwan, religious belief and practice is polytheistic. People seldom exclude aspects of other faiths from their personal or collective religious portfolios. Most people are not necessarily Buddhist or Taoist or officially affiliated with any certain temples or registered with a religious organization. Although each religious sect postulates its independent doctrine, some of them cannot be strictly categorized. It is common to see that Taiwan folk deity Goddess of the Sea (Matsu) and the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy (Kuanyin) are worshipped in the same temple or even home. People often go to the temples to present petitions and solicit divine assistance on some important occasions. The charms amulets, statuettes, and religious slogans are very popular. People like to use them for protection from accident and harm.

Except religious Taoism and Buddhism, Taiwanese society is also dominated by ancestor worship. Most families set the lighted shrine at home and worship their ancestors or deity heros with a burning incense daily. The ancestral worship is as a filial duty.

(Written by Miss C.Y.Li, 1996, TSA)