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Riligions In Taiwan

Government figures

The table shows official statistics on religion issued by the Department of Civil Affairs, Ministry of the Interior (“MOI”), in 2005. The ROC government recognizes 26 religions in Taiwan. The statistics are reported by the various religious organizations to the MOI:

(*I have even never heart some of them….. ^^”)

Religion Members % of total population Temples & churches
Buddhism ( 佛教 ) (including Tantric Buddhism ) 8,086,000 35.1% 4,006
Taoism ( 道教 ) 7,600,000 33.0% 18,274
I-Kuan Tao ( 一貫道 ) 810,000 3.5% 3,260
Protestantism ( 基督新教 ) 605,000 2.6% 3,609
Roman Catholic ( 羅馬天主教 ) 298,000 1.3% 1,151
Lord of Universe Church ( 天帝教 ) 298,000 1.3% 50
Maitreya Great Tao ( 彌勒大道 ) 250,000 1.1% 2,200
Tian De Jiao ( 天德教 ) 200,000 0.9% 14
Liism ( 理教 ) 186,000 0.8% 138
Syuan Yuan Jiao ( 軒轅教 ) 152,700 0.7% 22
Islam ( 伊斯蘭教 ) 58,000 +88,500 Indonesians 0.3% 6
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
( 耶穌基督後期聖徒教會 )
47,000 0.2% 54
Tenrikyo ( 天理教 ) 35,000 0.2% 153
Universe Mealler Faith ( 宇宙彌勒皇教 ) 35,000 0.2% 12
Hai Tze Tao ( 亥子道 ) 30,000 0.1% 55
Church of Scientology ( 山達基教會 ) 20,000 < 0.1% 7
Bahá’í Faith ( 巴哈伊教 ) 16,000 < 0.1% 13
Jehovah’s Witnesses ( 耶和華見證人 ) 6,223 < 0.1% 85
The Chinese Heritage and Moral Sources ( 玄門真宗 ) 5,000 < 0.1% 5
Zhonghua Sheng Jiao ( 中華聖教 ) 3,200 < 0.1% 7
Mahikari ( 真光教團 ) 1,000 < 0.1% 9
Red Swastika Society ( 先天救教 ) 1,000 < 0.1% 6
Huang Zhong ( 黃中 ) 1,000 < 0.1% 1
Da Yi Jiao ( 大易教 ) 1,000 < 0.1% 1
Total religious population 18,724,823 81.3% 33,223
Total population 23,036,087 100% –

(Following part is more transparent)

CIA figures

  • Both Buddhist and Taoist: 93%
  • Christian: 4.5%
  • Other: 2.5%

Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religion

According to the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA ) of the USA, there are about 93% of people identifying themselves as Buddhists , Taoists , or practitioners of Chinese folk religion . However, as with the majority of East Asian religious traditions in general, identification with these faiths does not necessarily mean actual affiliation as it does in many other parts of globe. It is also common for people to practice a blend of the three religions. Some people practice Buddhism exclusively, but most blend Taoist religious practices with elements from Buddhism and folk traditions. It is not uncommon to find a Buddhist temple adjacent to a Taoist temple, or even under the same roof. One example of this is Longshan Temple in Taipei City . Religious diversity has never been a significant source of conflict in Taiwan.

Besides large temples, small outdoor shrines to local deities are very common, and can be spotted on roadsides, parks, and neighborhoods in Taiwanese cities and towns. These small pockets of religious atmosphere let people stop by and pray informally anytime. They also provide a safe environment for locals to practice meditation and various other forms of religious practice. Many homes and businesses may also set up small shrines of candles, figurines, and offerings. Some restaurants, for example, may set up a small shrine to the Kitchen god for success in a restaurant business. Students may visit a shrine to the Learning god for good luck before a test.

Taoist temples are highly decorative. Colorfully tiled sculptures of dragons and other mythological creatures highlight the roof, and temples are often filled with statues of many gods and semi-theistic historical figures, reflecting the polytheistic and ancestor worship tradition of Taoism and folk religion.

Festivities and picnics often take place at Taoist temples.

There are approximately 4.55 million or 4.5 million Taoists in Taiwan and 4.9 million Buddhists .


Buddhism was introduced to Taiwan in the late 1500s with the Chinese immigration. Several forms of Buddhism have thrived on Taiwan ever since. During the Japanese occupation, Japanese Buddhism ( Shingon , Jodo Shinshu , Nichiren Shu , etc.) was introduced as part of the overall policy of cultural assimilation by the colonial government. Although many Buddhist communities affiliated themselves with Japanese sects for protection, they largely retained Chinese Buddhist practices. For instance, clerical marriage and meat-eating did not make the headway they did in occupied Korea. Today, approximately 94% of Taiwan’s population is Buddhist] .

Following retrocession, Taiwan was inundated with Mainland monks, including some who were considered to be of the best and brightest of the previous decades, such as Master Yinshun (Yìnshùn 印順). Tainted by the whiff of collaboration, outshone by these refugees, and underrepresented in the Chinese Buddhist Association (CBA) which served as a liaison with the government, the local lineages declined.

The CBA remained the dominant Buddhist organization until the end of martial law, when its government mandated monopoly was ended. Since the eighties, Buddhism has enjoyed a surge of popularity as the percentage of people identifying themselves as Buddhist rose from the low teens to almost fifty percent. Today there are several large Buddhist organization based in Taiwan that have expanded to become international organization. They include Dharma Drum Mountain (Făgŭshān 法鼓山 ) founded by late Master Sheng Yen ( 聖嚴 ), Buddha’s Light International (Fógŭangshān 佛光山 ) founded by Master Hsing Yun ( 星雲 ), and the Tzu Chi Foundation (Cíjì jījīnhùi 慈濟基金會 ) founded by Master Cheng Yen ( 證嚴法師 ).

Tzu Chi , one of the largest international non-profit Buddhist organizations, focuses on community service, outreach programs, charity work, and international humanitarian efforts. They have opened hospitals, community centers, schools, and Tzu Chi University in Hualien County .

In the last few years non-Chinese forms of Buddhism, such as Tibetan Buddhism , the Soka Gakkai International and the Vipassana movement of S. N. Goenka , have also had growing followings…


Christian churches exist on the Republic of China ( Taiwan ). According to figures given by the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA ), Christians which include Protestants , Catholics , Mormons , and non-denominational Christians make up a total of 4.5% of the population of Taiwan.


Though Islam originated in the Arabian Peninsula , it had spread eastward to China as early as the 7th century AD. Muslim merchants married local Chinese women, creating a new Chinese ethnic group called the Hui people . Islam first reached Taiwan in the 17th century when Muslim families from the southern Chinese coastal province of Fujian accompanied Koxinga on his invasion to oust the Dutch from Taiwan. Islam did not spread and their descendants became assimilated into the local Taiwanese society adopting the local customs and religions.

During the Chinese Civil War , some 20,000 Muslims, mostly soldiers and civil servants, fled mainland China with the Kuomintang to Taiwan. Since the 1980s, thousands of Muslims from Myanmar and Thailand, who are descendants of Nationalist soldiers who fled Yunnan as a result of the communist takeover, have migrated to Taiwan in search of a better life. In more recent years, there has been a rise in Indonesian workers to Taiwan. There are an estimated 88,000 Indonesian Muslims living in Taiwan [ 12 ] , in addition to the existing 53,000 Taiwanese Muslims. All demographics combined, there are over 140,000 Muslims in Taiwan.

Falun Gong 法輪功

Even though Falun Gong is banned in China , people in Taiwan are free to practice it.


2009/11/18 Posted by | Features of Taiwan | Leave a comment