Religion in China Macau

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The Guan Yin Statue, a modern representation of goddess Guan Yin.Religion in Macau is diverse: there is no state religion; the freedom of religion and belief is protected by Macau's constitutional document the Macau Basic Law.

The Macau government practices freedom of religion and respects the rights of the people in Macau. Based on 3:34 of the Basic Law, "The people in Macau have freedom of religion and they can preach, or participate in religious activities." Also, in the 3:120, "The Macau Special Administrative Region base on the principle of the freedom of religion and belief, the government does not intervene the interior of religion, the religion organization and the believers to keep in touch and develop the relationship with the religion organization and the believers of the oversea of Macau." The religion organization can start the religion college or other schools, hospitals and the welfare organization or others case work in accordance with the law; The schools which are started by religion organization can continue their religion education, include to teach the religion lessons; The religion organization can have the right for obtain, use, handle, inherit and adopt the contribution base on the law. The right in the wealth of religion organization is protected by the law."

To compare the kinds of religion between Macau and Hong Kong, the kinds of religion is not many in Macau. In the structure of the religion believers, Macau is like other Chinese communities, people usually believe in the traditional Folk religion. Most of the believers are Buddhism (About 79.3% population in 2006); Because of the historical background of Macau, the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Church of the Christianity are animated in Macau community and have some believers to support them, included some alternative Christianity (About 7% in 2006). As of December 2006, there were approximately 2,500 Baha'is. The Baha'is in 1988 established a 250-student institution that encompasses a kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school. There are about 400 Muslims in Macau and one mosque.[1]

The religion which is the activist in the case work is the Catholic now. However, because of the limit of the resources and Portuguese Government is partial toward Catholicism, others religions have no chance to participate in the case work. However, after Macau returned to China, the government has been more neutral. According to recent surveys, Catholicism is on the decline in Macau.[2]

Protection by the Basic Law

The Basic Law of Macau provides for freedom of conscience, freedom of religious belief, freedom to preach, and freedom to conduct and participate in religious activities. Mainland China does not govern religious practices in Macau. The Basic Law states that "The Government of Macau Special Administrative Region, consistent with the principle of religious freedom, shall not interfere in the internal affairs of religious organizations or in the efforts of religious organizations and believers in Macau to maintain and develop relations with their counterparts outside Macau, or restrict religious activities which do not contravene the laws of the Region.

The Religious Freedom Ordinance requires religious organizations to register with Macau's Identification Services Office. There have been no reports of discrimination in the registration process. The Freedom of Religion Ordinance, which remained in effect after the handover, provides for freedom of religion, privacy of religious belief, freedom of religious assembly, freedom to hold religious processions, and freedom of religious education. It also stipulates that religious groups may maintain and develop relations with religious groups abroad.

Traditional Belief

A Buddhist temple in Macau.

Na Tcha Temple, behind the Ruins of St. Paul's. It is dedicated to the deity Prince Nata.


Many people who live in Macau are Chinese. The culture of Macau is influenced by Chinese Confucianism and morality. In 1909, the Macau Confucianism organization was started. The organization was subordinated by Beijing Confucianism Organization at first, but independent later. The purpose of the Macau Confucianism Organization is to "respect Confucianism, spread the holy virtue, educate the talented, promote the culture". Chinese usually value the spirit and culture of the virtue. To spread the Confucianist spirit and culture of virtue, in 1913 the Organization started a small school in Macau. in order to popularize it in the folk education. In 1960, the organization printed the Confucianism Select for Secondary School. It has collected about 74 sayings from Analects of Confucius, Mencius (Book) and other Confucianist classics, in order to let students to recite them.

It is the birthday of Confucius in the 27th August of the lunar calendar, the Organization will lead the Chinese and schools which are comes from different classes to hold the ceremony commemorate and sacrifice.


Buddhism is the largest religion in Macau,with 92.3% of Macau's population professing the religion. It is the fastest growing religion in Macau. Buddhism has influenced much of Macau's traditional culture.




St. Francis Xavier's humerus. St. Joseph's church, Macao

-- Roman Catholic Church

According to recent surveys, Catholicism is the religion of about 8.8% of the population in Macau[3]. Catholicism is a legacy of Portuguese territorial control of Macau.

-- Protestant Church

In 1807, Rev. Dr. Robert Morrison, the first Protestant missionary to China, arrived in China via Macau. He started his missionary work in China after his arrival. However, Morrison's object was the Chinese that lived in Guangzhou, so he had not yet started a Chinese Protestant church in Macau. Later, after the Opium War of 1842, the Qing Dynasty gave Hong Kong to United Kingdom, and the Protestant missionaries and the British who lived in Macau all moved to Hong Kong, including all the British Protestants, so there were few Protestant Christians in Macau for a long time. By the 20th century, some Chinese Protestants had meetings in some Christian homes. The most famous Chinese Christians to open their homes for Christian to meet were Mr. Lui De Shan and Dr. Yu Mei De. For the support from the churches in Hong Kong, Ji Dou Church, which is the first Chinese Protestant church in Macau (its name was Ji Dou Hall at first), was registered with the Macau Portuguese Government in 1905, and church was built at Hei Sha Huan. Also, the Macau Baptist Church, the second Chinese Protestant church in Macau, was started. Many Chinese Protestant churches were founded thereafter. Today there are about 4,000 Protestants in Macau who participate in church worship activities. An average of just 50 people always participate in the worship at each church. Also, there are lots of churches in Macau that were founded by many different Communions from Hong Kong and other countries, such as the Anglican Church, Baptist Church and Lutheran Church, but historically here was little cooperation among them. When the Union of Christian Evangelical Churches in Macau was started in 1990, the churches began greater cooperation with each other. In 2006, the 7th Chinese Congress on World Evangelization has held in Macau and it indirectly inspired the Protestant churches in Macau to unite.

Missionaries are free to conduct missionary activities and are active in Macau. More than 30,000 children are enrolled in Catholic schools, and a large number of influential non-Christians have received a Christian education. Religious entities may use electronic media to preach.

The Victoria Diocese of the Anglican Communion, established in 1849, included Macau as well as Hong Kong. When the Diocese of Chung Hwa Sheng Kung Hwei was established in 1912, Macau were included with Hong Kong and Guangdong. In 1951, following the change of the Chinese government, Hong Kong and Macau left the Diocese and established the The Sheng Kung Hui Diocese of Hong Kong and Macau. At the end of British administration in Hong Kong, the Diocese was succeeded by the Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (also called the Hong Kong Anglican Church).

For the case works, because of the pressure from the Portuguese Government and the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant churches are limited to do any case works. Also, the Protestant churches are limited by the inadequate resources and lots of Protestant schools were closed after the "3/12 movement" had happened, which makes the Protestant church has lesser participated in the education of Macau. There are seven Protestant Secondary Schools and Primary Schools in Macau at present. There are some recovery programs are hold up by some Protestant organization and obtain the government to support. The counsellings service of Protestant Organization are started by Macau Chinese Christian Missionary in 2005, and now just it has still provided the counsellings.

-- Other religions

-- Islam

Islam has been present in Macau since before the Ming Dynasty. Although the exact time and manner of its introduction is disputed, it is traditionally held that it was brought to the area by traders. During World War II a large number of ethnic Hui Muslims fled to Macau to escape devastation in the rest of the country. At present Macau has one mosque and Muslim cemetery to serve the city's more than four hundred Muslims that associate under the name of "The Macau Islamic Society". This mosque went under renovation in the late months of the year 2007. This mosque is planned to be doubled in size to provide a more modern mosque in the heart of Macau.

-- Bahá'í

-- Others

Falun Gong practitioners are present in Macau.[4] The practitioners exercise daily rituals in public parks where they have occasionally been observed by police and checked for identification.[citation needed] There have been no reports of religious prisoners, detainees or forced religious conversion.[citation needed]

The various religious communities maintain peaceful relationships with one another.[citation needed] The Macanese people are generally tolerant of other religious views and practices.[citation needed] Public ceremonies and dedications often include prayers led by both Christian and Buddhist groups.[citation needed]

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