Maoism - a New Religious formation in the People's Republic of China


  • Åke Haglund


Communism, Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976, Ideology, Politics and religion, Dictatorship, Totalitarianism, Cults -- China


A few words may first be said of the fate of the established religions in China, when Mao Tse-tung in 1949 from T'ien An Men, Peking, declared the new regime, the People's Republic of China (PRC), which like other Communist regimes, looked upon religion as opium for the people. Karl Marx wrote: "The abolition of religion as illusionary happiness of the people is required for real happiness."' Very soon after the take over of power, Chow En-lai called representatives of various religions to Peking as Government guests to discuss the future of these religious organisations and assured them they could go ahead as usual, provided they co-operated with the government. Mao had stated before 1949 that everyone is free to believe or not to believe in religion, which statement was later on passed as Article 88 of the National Constitution. Moreover, Mao's attitude towards religion was declared in his article On New Democracy: "In the field of political action Communists may form an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal front with some idealists and even religious people, but we can never approve of their idealism or religious doctrine." Working under strict limitations the religious groups, at the outbreak of Cultural Revolution in 1966, had to stop all religious activities. Maoism has led to a new unity. Ceremonies include standing before a portrait of Mao each morning asking instruction for the day, reading portions of the works of Mao before meals with gratitude, also reporting from the work of the day at night. As prayer is at the core of all religions as well as meditation it would seem that this is practised in China today.  



How to Cite

Haglund, Åke. (1975). Maoism - a New Religious formation in the People’s Republic of China. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 7, 43–54.