A recent poll suggests that one in three Chinese consider themselves religious, “an astonishing figure for an officially atheist country, where religion was banned until three decades ago,” writes Louisa Lim. Lim, in a six part series, “New Believers: A Religious Revolution in China,” on NPR’s All Things Considered, is documenting the diversity religious practices in the communist state. In a prelude to this series, Lim writes:
Alongside China’s astonishing economic boom, an almost unnoticed religious boom has quietly been taking place.
In the country’s first major survey on religious beliefs, conducted in 2006, 31.4 percent of about 4,500 people questioned described themselves as religious. That amounts to more than 300 million religious believers, an astonishing number in an officially atheist country, and three times higher than the last official estimate, which had largely remained unchanged for years.
The collapse of the communist ideology created a void that has left many Chinese staring into a spiritual vacuum, looking for a value system to counterbalance the rampant materialism that seems to govern life in China.