Religions of GansuUpdated: 2013-10-10
( chinadaily.com.cn )
Gansu province has a great diversity of religious beliefs. Five major religions, including Islam, Buddhism and Catholicism, can all be found in Gansu.
The believers of Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, and Catholicism are mainly Han people, and Tibetan Buddhism is almost a universal religious belief among several minority ethnic groups, including Tibetans, Mongols, and Yugur people.
Islam is one of the most common religious beliefs for the people of Hui, Dongxiang, Baoan, Salar and Kazak nationalities. Labrang Monastery, one of the six great monasteries of Gelukpa sect, is located in Xiahe county of Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture.
Tibetan Buddhism has a far-reaching influence in Amdo, a sprawling Tibetan-populated area that spans parts of the provinces of Gansu Sichuan and Qinghai. Linxia is the origin of Chinese Islamic Menhuans.
According to statistic data from 1996, Gansu had 2.61 million religious believers, accounting for 11 percent of its population. A total of 1.54 million Muslims lived in Gansu at that time. Buddhists numbered over 770,000, including both Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese Buddhists. There were more than 210,000 Taoists living in Gansu according to the data. The followers of Catholicism and Christianity totaled 28,000 and 58,000, respectively.
Gansu has 5,011 sites for religious activities, including 3,731 sites for Islam activities, 682 sites for Buddhism and 212 for Taoism.
Gansu has 15,000 religious staff and 167 religious organizations at various levels.There are two religious colleges -- Lanzhou Islamic Institute and Gansu provincial Buddhism College.
Islam has a history of over 1,300 years in Gansu. Buddhism was popular in Hexi as early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).
The most ancient Buddha statue in Cheng county can be traced back to AD 69. The relics of immortal cultivation were found in Gansu even earlier than Taoism's establishment in the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Early in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Zhangye built a Catholic church before Catholicism was introduced into Gansu after 1840. Christianity was also popular in Gansu in the late 19th century.