A majority of the population identified with 'Chinese Folk Religions' (49%). Of the remaining population, 21.3% of Hong Kong is Buddhist, 14.2% is Taoist, 11.8% is Christian and 3.7% identified with 'Other'. Smaller numbers of the population are Hindu, Sikh and Jewish. Hong Kongers have more religious freedom than their close neighbours in China. However, in a 2014 survey conducted by the Gallup Poll, 75.55% of Hong Kongers said that religion was not important to their daily lives.
It should be noted that some Chinese Hong Kongers practice traditional Asian philosophies such as Confucianism, but these are not always considered to be ‘religions’ (as defined in surveys). They are more commonly perceived as a way of viewing life that can coexist with other religions—such as Buddhism. Many people (including those who identify as non-religious) have some affiliation or understanding of traditional Asian philosophies, as the tenets and values of these belief systems still tend to have a strong influence on social behaviours and practices.
Confucianism is a guiding philosophy that puts emphasis on the importance of healthy human relationships. It promotes the idea that relationships between people are unequal and that everyone should have defined hierarchical roles (for example, ruler and subject, husband and wife, father and son). It teaches that when this natural inequality is accepted and respected, it becomes easier to maintain harmonious, stable relations between individuals and, therefore, in society as a whole.
Taoism is a religion of cultivation and can be confusing to understand as ‘the Tao’ itself is indescribable and left to one's own interpretation. It is associated with pantheism, the belief that everything composing reality is divine. Essentially, Taoism is the perception of the universe as a reality in which everything in existence is connected. It emphasises a deep connection between nature and self-development.
The Taoist concept most familiar to Westerners is that of Yin and Yang, which holds that the world is full of opposites, unified in how they complement one another (e.g. light and dark, high and low, etc.). There are no gods in Taoism, but it is a logic that can be and therefore allows the gods of other religions to intertwine. Many spirits (different from gods) are worshipped, representing mountains, rivers, or even gates and cooking stoves. Some important historical figures are believed to have become spirits in their afterlives (e.g. Guan Yu). Common Taoist practices are meditation, fortune telling, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and the reading and chanting of scriptures. Today, however, Tai Chi can be associated with a form of exercise rather than a religious practice.
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