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Session Three of a CFR Symposium on Religion and the Future of China: Religion, Civil Society, and Economic Life [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service]

Speakers: Adam Yuet Chau, Lecturer in the Social Anthropology of China, University of London, Richard Madsen, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, and Robert Weller, Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Research Associate, Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, Boston University
Presider: Susan R. Weld, Research Fellow, East Asian Legal Studies, Harvard University
June 11, 2008
Council on Foreign Relations

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This event is part of the Religion and Foreign Policy Symposia Series, which is made possible by the generous support of the Henry Luce Foundation.

 

SUSAN ROOSEVELT WELD:  Let's start the next session.  I'm very sorry, I just think -- we, unfortunately, have been left with a little less time than we had planned, and so I want to make sure that all our wonderful speakers will have a chance to give us their views about what's going on with religion in China and the future of religion in China.

And this is the third panel, and it's really one of the most -- I think the most exciting of the three panels.  It's not the adversarial side of the state and religion, but it's what religion can do in future, and maybe has done already, in building China's economic growth, China's civil society, building a new social welfare system at the grassroots, and coping with the significant kinds of discontent and unrest that have been plaguing the Chinese countryside for the last several decades -- couple of decades anyway.

So I get to introduce to you our three speakers.  And the first one I'm going to introduce is Adam Chau, who I first came to know of through a great paper he wrote about the word condemned in Chinese which were being painted on houses in different parts of the cities of China as the great construction projects go on.  And he's now gone on to write a book -- a wonderful book, and now he's soon to be working at the University of London, lecturer on the sociology of China.

ADAM YUET CHAU:  Anthropology.  Anthropology of China.

WELD:  Anthropology of China.  And the next job is going to be university lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China, in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge.  So, welcome to you, Adam.

And we also have Richard Madsen, famous to us all as being one of the authors of "Habits of the Heart," who wrote about -- who writes about both modern U.S. society and sociology, and China.  , luckily, for all of us here -- has written some of them most exciting things I've read on the topic recently.

And Bob Weller -- all these people, the bios are in the books, so you can read the things which are a little bit more organized than what I'm telling you now.  But I had Bob come down and talk at the Congressional Executive Commission on China when I was down there, being its general counsel.

The Commission was looking at religion in China in for the reasons that you all can imagine.  It works on human rights, and it works on the rule of law in China.  And Congress runs it.  It has eight senators and eight representatives, and they're interested in certain aspects of Chinese life.

And religion is -- at the time, at the present, I think at the time -- this present time in the U.S. religion is a very important and growing phenomenon too.  So they wanted us to look at religion in China, and we did do as good a job as we could with the help of experts such as Bob Weller.

So I'm going to start out right now with what our experts here have to say on the future of Chinese religion and the growth of civil society and economic growth in China.  I do want to say one thing is that we've been hearing -- in the last panel especially, sorts of adversarial things about the government, the state and religion.

And it really is not a new thing.  It goes back throughout Chinese history, as we've heard from different historians -- I'm a historian, and I do want to say that famous phrase from Gu Yanwu who talks about why the state worries about religion, why the state worries about religious beliefs and superstitions.

And he says that, "When people orient themselves to the spirits excessively, they do not respond to the state's iron tools of punishment, so the state really feels a lapse in its ability to control the populations."  And I just think that's maybe the same worry that the current government has.

Here I go.  I'm going to start out with you, Bob.  I'd love to hear whatever you have to say on this topic, but what I'm especially curious about is the comparison with the liberalization of rules on religion in Taiwan, and that which may occur in Mainland China -- whether or not China can go that same route; whether -- this is also for you, Dick, whether the existing religions, especially Buddhism can develop the social welfare organizations as fantastic and strong as -- (background noise) -- has in Taiwan, especially since, as we learned from the earlier panel that organization has really been a huge help in the earthquake.

And Adam's work is grassroots work in Shaanxi Province, on how a local temple was able to build up itself again and become relevant to the community.  I want to know all about that, both economic and civil society aspects.

So, Bob, can I start with you.  I don't think I've asked you all the different questions we talked about, but anything you have to say I would love to hear.

ROBERT WELLER:  All right, so let me say a bit about the liberalization of policy toward religion in Taiwan, and what, if anything, that means for the People's Republic of China.

So, things changed quite a bit in Taiwan after democratization, that is after 1987.  Before that, the policy toward religion in Taiwan was, in many ways, the inheritance of the earlier nationalist party rule in China -- that Rebecca Nedostup, in her professional work, writes about quite a bit, and she talked about a little bit today -- that is it's a policy that already was seeing religion as something superstitious, that had to be put up with; Christianity as maybe okay because it went with the West, but even that not particularly welcomed; and folk religion simply as some feudal remnant and embarrassing superstitious thing, that it would be nice if it disappeared but we can't quite get rid of it.

So they come to Taiwan in 1945 -- after the Japanese leave, after 50 years of occupation, and they immediately start propaganda campaigns against popular religion, and they immediately create national level organizations to deal with the Daoists and the Buddhists.  So, I shouldn't say "create," because they're continuing Mainland Chinese policies from earlier in the century.

It's not very different from the situation in China right now.  That is, there's not any legal position for most local temple religion, and yet, in practice, it's more or less tolerated in what Yang Fenggang has called the gray, the "gray market" for Chinese religion -- not exactly illegal, but not really legal -- tolerated.

So they did that.  Buddhists were organizing the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China; Daoists in a similar one.  Just Christians were a rather -- for historical reasons, rather separately organized.  But because the Presbyterian church -- by far the largest in Taiwan, became rather closely tied to Taiwan independence politics, there was a lot of tension at that end as well.

So that's the situation.  There's no cultural revolution, but in many ways it does -- it looks again like 1950s kind of PRC policy, which is also the inheritor of this earlier 20th century world change in attitude that Rebecca had talked about.

What happens in 1987, if it's democratic you need to go where the voters are, and that's the temples.  You know, what are the social ties that tie a rural community together in a Chinese society?  Their kinship and their temples.  Those are the two main things.

So, every politician started showing up in temples -- mainlander politicians with no ties to traditional Taiwanese religion, like Ma Ying-jeou, the new president -- these guys show up in temples.  They all show up in temples.  A totally different attitude occurs toward local religion at that point.

So what does any of this mean for China?  Are we, at some point, going to get a totally new attitude?  And I'd say, you know, the first lesson of Taiwan is you can be an authoritarian government, allow a certain kind of religious civil society to exist, but keep it under control.  And you can go on like that for a long, long time.

That's the first lesson of Taiwan.  It's not that Taiwan democratized, it's that you can rule pretty successfully in this corporatist kind of structure that China has right now, and that Taiwan had for many decades before it finally did democratize.

The second thing, though, is there are all kinds of resources that exist in the entire religious panorama of China -- that others have already talked about, that are really important, I think, in the process of democratization.  I do not think they created democratization, but I do think they're crucial to the ability to adapt to it.

Mayfair earlier said something nice about -- you know, democracy, simply declared from on high, is never really going to be democracy.  Something has to grow up from the bottom.  And in Taiwan's case, part of what that was was all these local resources that existed, partly because of the religious experience of people.

So, I think it's important -- it's important, therefore, that China is tolerating this kind of religiosity again, but it's not a guarantee of any particular kind of future change I don't think.

WELD:  Thank you very much.

Dick.

RICHARD MADSEN:  Well, in Taiwan, as was mentioned, one of the most fascinating things in the last 20 years, since they made this transition to democracy after 1987, was this explosion of religiosity -- organized religiosity among the emerging middle classes.

Taiwan's always been awash in religion, local folk religion, and so forth, but what I found interesting -- I wrote this little book about it recently -- was that there was an enormous kind of explosion, a very well organized religion among these emerging middle classes, people you would've thought would have sort of given up on religion as they left the villages, and got a secular education, and so forth.

And one of the groups, of course, was this group that you mentioned, Tzu Chi, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Association.  But there are others.  There's, like, the Buddha's Light Mountain; there's the Dharma Drum Mountain; and there's other groups like this -- mostly Buddhist, some Daoist too.

One religious group that's actually declined in Taiwan, in significance and energy, has been the Christians.  And I argue one reason was that they were actually privileged during this era of repression, partly because of the Cold War.  They couldn't afford to antagonize Christians.  So many people in the old China lobby were, you know, Christian missionaries and so forth.

So the Christians were able to have universities -- Donghua University, you know, in Taiyuan; Fu Jen University, the Catholic university in Taipei, and things like that.  The Buddhists, Daoists, never -- never allowed that kind of stuff.  They wanted to decapitate these religious intellectually.  They don't want it.  You know, the folk religion was okay -- local level, keep it dispersed; and no large lay organizations and so forth.

So now what's exploded are these groups -- since 1987, which are, have large lay organizations, and do all sorts of this kind of work.  The Tzu Chi organization has -- it claims about, I think, 4 million members, defined as "lay people," who donate some money regularly every month.  At the core, it's only about 100 nuns in this, in this monastery in Hualien.

The Buddha's Light Mountain has about 1,300 -- maybe less than 2,000 monks and nuns, but then also lay organizations millions of people strong.  Dharma Drum Mountain the same.  And these groups have been engaged in all sorts of works of charity of various kinds, and all going global.  So they give out charity to China -- for instance, in the earthquake, and they were one of the first people who went there.

But, they've also been around the world.  The Tzu Chi, for instance, you know, in 1991 went global.  And it's part of their spiritual cultivation.  It's -- the way they understand it is, you have to expand people's hearts.

And it's sort of similar, it's like Buddhist meditation where you have to learn how to sit in this lotus position, and it really hurts.  And the way in which you reach that center of, you know, contemplation is you fight through the pain until you don't feel anymore and, you know, and you get this kind of --   Well, the same thing with charity.  What you have to do is reach out to people who are different, not the people you normally like.  And reach out and stretch yourself, and keep pushing and then we'll expand your heart.

And so they've been giving aid to Mainland China -- Tzu Chi, for instance, since 1991 -- (audio break) -- all throughout Southeast Asia, places like Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kosovo, even helped rebuild a hospital in Fallujah in Iraq.  And here, of course, too, when they helped some of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks, for example, and also Hurricane Katrina, and elsewhere.

So there's an issue of, kind of, helping people around the world, expanding your heart in that way.  And the other groups have done similar things.  And so it's quite remarkable that this happened.  And what I argue, at least partially, is that this has been conducive to the development of democracy -- even though it's non-political, in a fortuitous way, because in lots of places in the world religion -- new religious movements can have a very negative effect.  Basically, religion, you know, can do very good things, wonderful tings, but in other places it's like pouring gasoline on fires of ethnic resentment and local, you know, anger and so forth.

In Taiwan, the net effect of this, though, was sort of the opposite.  It cooled down certain kinds of ethnic divisions, of course, which are very important in Taiwan.  It kind of builds bridges, and so forth, over in the mainland.  And so it had that kind of positive effect, which I think was useful in helping to consolidate this very fragile democracy you have in Taiwan, which is always -- seems on the verge of chaos, but has somehow held together.

WELD:  Thank you very much.

Now Adam, can you tell us a little of your initial investigations in Shaanxi and the rebuilding of the temple structure there?

CHAU:  Yes.  In the mid to late 1990s, I conducted field work in northern Shaanxi Province, which is close to Inner Mongolia, between Xian and Baotou in Inner Mongolia.  And, basically, it was -- I studied the revival of a temple called the Black Dragon Temple.  And as, basically, hundreds of thousands of other temples in China, they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the -- around 1964, the Socialist Education campaign, and then during the Cultural Revolution.

But a lot of them, in some ways, at least, have been revived in the '80s, '90s, and these include cults devoted to dragon kings, fertility goddesses, immortals and other kinds of deities.  Some of them have spirit mediums that can speak in the gods' voices.  Some do not have them -- but all of them have regular celebrations, temple festivals and set out to garner the social forces of local communities.

Rebecca mentioned earlier these are the religious observances, or religiosities that are not recognized by the state as religion, but rather superstitious activities.  So most of them actually are, in theory, illegal.  So, the police is supposed to actually crack down on these activities.  But in the '80s and '90s, we increasingly see that, in most parts of China, these crackdowns are very, very rare because local police are, basically, siding with the people.

In fact, they're not only not cracking down but helping the maintain law and order when there is a temple festival, because they get a lot of benefits from temple festivals as well, in terms of income.  So in my case, the Black Dragon King Temple boss, Lao Wang regularly sponsored the local police station's, say upgrading their gear -- (laughter).  And whenever they visit to help with temple festivals, they would, you know, house them in the back dormitory, and wine and dine them, and make sure they're happy before they leave.

So, there's a, sort of, symbiotic relationship now developing between local cults and local state.  And Rebecca mentioned earlier that we should distinguish the central government that, really far away, have these directives that, when they arrive at the local level are rarely implemented fully, especially when they're relating to religious policies.

And I guess some of your -- some of the audience might wonder, this kind of local religion -- you know, spirit mediumism, temple festivals, drawing divination lots, what foreign policy relevance might these have?  But I just want to remind us that actually the -- Taiping Rebellion, for example, in the 19th century, even though it was largely Christian inspired, but it has actually incorporated a lot of local religion -- popular religious elements.  And the Boxer Rebellion, of course, had enormous input from opera tradition in North China plains and popular religious sentiments.

And then even the current -- excuse me, Falun Gong has a lot of folk religious elements, for example, possession by animal spirits, and things like that.  So, I think a lot of times we -- there are a lot of things happening.  We don't really know what's going on in rural China because we haven't done a lot of empirical research.  And it's only when things come to a head, where things happen, we realize, oh, that's an important thing.  But we do not know enough of it.  And I think -- so, I think we should keep a close eye on what's going on in rural China.

WELD:  Do you think the state clearly worries about traditional religion as a possible source of conflict and instability?  I mean, certainly their reaction to some of the Falun Gong -- their rhetoric of saying, follow the road of science, don't follow superstition and harm your body -- which is how they respond to the healing aspects of Falun Gong, and I presume to some of the healing aspects of other cults.  Because they fear -- they fear, just what you have said, the Taiping Rebellion kinds of things starting up from that sort of context.

CHAU:  Yeah, I personally don't know enough about the Falun Gong case.  But in terms of these local folk religions, the state has been very tolerant because they are so locale-based, very dispersed and, in fact, some scholars work on the rural China, for example: after the collapse of the Maoist organizational mechanism, rural life is becoming very atomized and you can even say "sad."  People go back home and watch TV, but there's no longer a collective spirit in many communities.

Where there is a temple or temple festival, that's where the social organizational spirit of the Chinese come to the fore.  And I think the state probably appreciate this kind of grassroots social force -- that it enhances the communal spirit of local society.

MADSEN:  I think this reminds me of Taiwan in the 1950s, and so forth.  The old Nationalist party, just like the Communist Party, came from the so-called May Fourth era period, in early 20th century.  And their project initially was, get rid of all this religion, this local religion.  You know, this was pre-modern, and to get a modern state you've got to this thing out because it was basically -- that was reinforced localism, local village, local family, local corporate identity -- you had to take that out and replace it with modern ideology.  And missionaries, people like Timothy Richard, at the end of the 19th century, total reformers.  That's what you have to do, get rid of that.  So, they destroyed these temples.  They destroyed everything that basically was the basis for a local community and local meaning to create a modern society.

And by the '50s, because of the way in which the Guo Ming Dang took over Taiwan, they decided, well, we can't do that anymore, at least in Taiwan.  And so in Taiwan they allowed this to flourish.  And so China today is sort of back to, like, 1950s Taiwan, as far as the local religion is concerned I think.

WELD:  They have, actually, their regulations on religious affairs, don't -- in terms, treat traditional religion.  However, in Hunan Province there is a regulation -- a local regulation which allows for the, for the state to regulate traditional religion.  And sorrowfully, they've put out regulations recently which are quite restrictive.

And they, for example, they only allow traditional religious entities to be built on sites which already have such a temple, or shrine, or something.  They don't allow new ones to be founded.  So at least in that province, their reaction's been restrictive.

WELLER:  Yeah, I think that Hunan experiment was an interesting one, that two or three, four years ago was a point where I think we started getting a lot of ferment within Chinese government circles about what do we do about religion.  Yang Fenggang, I think the point he wanted to end with was, there's not a single voice, there's actually, really a lot of discussion about what the inadequacies of the current policy are, and what do we do now.

And many things are possible.  So for a local religion, one of the things on the table was let's have a sixth religion -- not Confucianism, but folk religion, meaning Tseng Sung Chao (ph) would become number six.  And there was some experimentation, and I think the Hunan thing is one of those -- one of those experiments that was done with trying to treat popular religion as a religion.

Now, what would that mean to treat it as a religion?  It means giving it certain rights.  You do get to be a legally registered temple under certain circumstances.  Hunan took a rather conservative position about what that was, but in some ways that was a radical improvement because it took any of this out of the realm of feudal superstition and gave it some legal protection.

On the other hand, you know, what's the downside of this entire thing?  It's that once it's legal it's regulated.  Government supervision becomes much, much stronger -- and that, we saw that really clearly in the Hunan thing.

I was in Shanghai just a few weeks ago and talking to some people about this, and they said, yeah, well, we're not really doing that anymore.  And I don't -- how representative this was, I don't know.  But I was told this sixth religion thing, we're probably not going in that direction.  So, I think what we have there is an experiment which may not have any follow through.

Instead, the idea of the moment -- and, you know, will this work, I don't know -- the idea of the moment is to deal with local religion as an aspect of Chinese culture.  And so to celebrate it -- to celebrate the Black Dragon God Temple, as, you know, the importance of dragons in Chinese culture; and when we throw our gigantic annual temple festival this is not superstitious worship of false spirits, but it's a celebration of the roots of China's great cultural tradition.

And this is not usual.  We have temples now all over China, not registering as temples, which is quite hard to do, but registering as museums, for instance, or lineage halls, which are not legal organizations, registering as museums, or cultural showcases, or this kind of thing.  So that seems to be the direction of the moment.  But I would just reiterate what Fenggang said before, this is very much under discussion right now.

WELD:  What does that do to the counts of the numbers of believers in China, if your temple is registered not as a religious site but a tourist site?

WELLER:  Maybe some of the statistician-types in the audience might want to speak to this more.  I'm deeply suspicious of all count of believers in China because some types of religion are easy to count.  Christians tend to be easy to count because you're -- you know, you're out, but you've been baptized or you haven't been baptized.

What's a Buddhist?  That's a very tough question.  Is a Buddhist somebody who's taken certain vows, Bodhisattva vows?  Well, yes, by some definitions.  But by others, if you go to Taiwan and ask somebody on the street, are you a Buddhist, and they usually say, yes.  And what they mean is, they burn incense twice a month to Modzu or Guangong or some local deity who's got nothing to do with Buddhism.  In fact, the word in Taiwanese dialect, a god image is called "a Buddha," you know, whatever it's Buddhist connections may or may not be.

So, what's -- what's a Buddhist?  And that even is clearer than this stuff that we don't even know how to name, right -- folk religion, local temple belief, whatever that is, believe, sort of, has nothing to do with that.  So I've had people tell me, I don't have any religion -- I mean, no religion -- but I burn incense to spirits every day.  Because for them religion is -- as Rebecca defined it, a thing with text, with priests, with an initiation rite like baptism that brings you in.  They don't have any of that.

Instead, what they do is pay respect to spirits.  And the word they use usually is Bai or Bai-Bai or something like that, which is also used in nonreligious terms to pay respects to a superior.  I can pay respects to you -- and you don't know what I think, but I still paid respects by behaving in a certain kind of a way.  So am I believer?  You can't really answer that.  It's an inappropriate question.

So, how do you count?  You could do a more sophisticated questionnaire, and there are some that say, you know, have you burned incense for an ancestor in the last month, in the last year?  (Laughter.)  That's how you have to do it if you want to get at this local religiosity.  Or through other areas, do you hire a geomancer to site your parents' coffin at a funeral?  Those are the kinds of questions you have to ask.  If you say, which religion do you believe in -- Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity, none -- it's an -- it's a question that for many, many Chinese is almost impossible to answer.

WELD:  Here is a question about the way religion can either affect someone as an individual or as part of the community.  Religion can form the community to take in, to embrace individuals, or it can focus light on the individual, and the individuals can be using religion as its access to future life or good luck or whatever.

I'd like to start with you, Adam.  In your -- in your experience in looking at local religion in Shaanxi, was that a religion focused on the individual, in any way, or can you parse it out in those terms?

CHAU:  Right.  I think the individual level definitely is important.  I think, for example, each person going through life has like increment, or successive encounters with different spiritual forces.  For example, it's only when, say, you have already had two daughters and you really desperately want the third child to be a son.  That would bring you and your wife to the fertility goddess temple.  And then you say it was successful.  Then your relationship to this fertility goddess is sort of affirmed and established.  And you will always go back and tell other people about the efficacy of this fertility goddess; whereas, if you didn't have that problem you probably would never have gone to this fertility goddess, even though it's in the neighborhood.  So it's very individual and personal.

But, I think, more importantly, it is at the familial and the communal level, because I've tried to develop this notion of doing religion, which is that it's -- doing religion is not always about religiosity, or the spiritual, or -- but rather things that relate to a kind of religious practice or a religious life, including donating money to build a temple, or participating in a temple festival to help create a hustle-bustle atmosphere which bring testimony to the gods' efficacy.

And so just as if it would not be appropriate to ask a Chinese rural peasant whether, you know, you believe in the Black Dragon King, or the fertility goddess or Guangong, it's also inappropriate to restrict analysis of religion to the purely spiritual and, you know, mental relationship between deity and the person.  Rather, you have to be much broadened.

And I also want to mention the economic aspect.  I think for every one Chinese dollar donated to a Chinese church or mosque, there must be 10, 20 or 30 Chinese dollars used to hire a spirit medium, funeral specialist -- Buddhist or Daoist, or otherwise -- at a funeral; or buy incense money and things like that.  So the economic impact of popular religion is actually quite big, even though it's often invisible because so much of this is transactional and are not, you know, revealed in any public accounting sense.

WELD:  Thank you.

Dick, could you tell us your --

MADSEN:  -- (inaudible.) Well, I think I would maybe make a distinction, like, a sociological one, between, sort of, embedded and disembedded religion, okay.  The great philosopher Charles Taylor has talked a lot about this in his recent book on secularism.

And, basically, in most societies in most parts of the world, religion is totally embedded in social life.  This is the way it was in the West during Medieval Europe, most of the time. That it's very difficult to make a distinction between belonging to a church, and belonging to your village, and belonging to your family -- it's all part of the same thing.  And your economic life, and your social life, and religious life are really what -- are one of a piece.  And so it's hard to say where one ends and one begins.

And, in many ways, that's what it's like in many of these Chinese local communities.  And so that's why people are -- and vague about whether they're religious or not.  They're social -- they're part of this community, and just part of it, and to give up their religion would be the same as leaving your family.  And so you just can't do it.

This is even the case in the -- oh, I did a little book on these Catholics in China too, and local Catholic villages are like that too.  Basically, being a member of the village was to be a Catholic.  That's all there was to it.

And they made a distinction between lax Catholics and fervent Catholics -- "lax" may be never showing up for church, and living a moral life that, say, the pope wouldn't have approved of, or anything like that.  But, they're still a Catholic, right, because when they die they're going to buried as a Catholic, because, you know, they have to get connected with their ancestors.  And so this is connected with the whole fabric of life.  That's one kind, is embedded religion.

And then there's a more "modern" kind, if you want to call it that, in the West, after the Reformation especially, where you're supposed to make a personal faith commitment to God.  You know, you receive Jesus into your heart, and so forth, and so on, and join some congregation.  So leave -- and that's a new kind.  Now, that's a special kind that we haven't seen much in the world.  And, to some degree, these Chinese -- modern Chinese groups are doing that too.  So, you join the temple, you know.

And so this becomes an individual search for individual salvation -- disembedded.  And one problem with this -- from the point of view of the Chinese government, is that this leads people to, kind of, maybe link up beyond their local community into wider and wider networks.  And then when that happens you have potential for trouble because you have potential for some force opposite to the state.

And, for example, in the rural areas you have all these -- now these Christians, especially Pentecostals, linking up to all these networks ramifying throughout the whole rural area.  This raises the specter of, you know, united rural action.  And there's an enormous amount of conflict in the rural areas.  You know, the government a few years ago, has a statistic of 85,000 incidents -- riots and so forth, local villages complaining about the local conditions.

They can handle that as long as each of them are isolated, or localized.  But if there's any way of communicating, you know, horizontally, then your potential for major mass movement, and then you have a lot of trouble.  And so that's why the government is so wary of these translocal kinds of groups, which you begin to get when you get a disembedded sort of religion.

WELD:  Thank you.

We've been focusing, to a large degree, on the rural situations.  However, I know that some of the churches in the cities are getting to be sizeable.  In -- (inaudible) recent article, the title of that article, significantly enough, is "The Growth of Religion and Social Stability in China," so the impact of this huge growth of religion on social stability, which is what, of course, the government is worried about.

In that article he mentions churches which can sit 1,000 -- a congregation of 1,000 people near Luyang and not just one, but three or more such churches in that limited area.  What's the difference in the function of those churches for China's future economic growth, and these little rural kinds of relatively localized -- and I shouldn't say "church," I should say "religious structures?"

Bob, let's start with you.

WELLER:  You know, I don't work much on Christianity, so I hesitate to say.  Of the, you know, the various sources of Christianity in China, the places that have been Catholic for 400 years -- you know, since the Jesuits and the Dominicans.  There are places that have been Protestant for 150 years, you know -- were whole villages .  That's -- so that's one source is just ancestral.

And there's more recent conversions.  And those fall into several different sorts of categories I think.  So there's the, kind of, stereotypical, marginal people at the edges of everything, and Christianity offers them a way out.  There are people quite the opposite of that.  They're intellectuals who really get interested in Christianity, sometimes as simply a moral system with the religiosity subtracted, or sometimes not.  And there's probably everything in between.  We don't have -- we still don't have the good sociology, or the good anthropology of really what's going on on the ground here.  And so that's why I'm kind of hesitating, really, to answer this question.  I don't know what the answer is.

The social cohesion one -- I mean, Yu Jianrong has put his finger on the crucial thing the government is worried about.  So, even that you could say, maybe -- maybe -- Christianity, or Buddhism, or any of the others, could contribute to social cohesion, this is a rather new thought.

I forget who was saying -- Dru, maybe, in the last session, that, you know, we have this generation of cadres, which is not the older -- you know, the older one grew up with religion.  This one grew up with atheism.  So, it's not even if they've had no religious education -- which is how you phrased it, they had an anti-religious education.  They know that it's stupid.  It's embarrassing.  It's superstitious.  It's false.  They know that.

So that, you know, there's this enormous thing to overcome.  And even to have this on the table, even to have an argument made in a public forum by somebody at CASS -- a kind of major government think-tank really, that's significant.  Even if, again, they go some completely different direction, it's on the table.  Right now I think that's really significant.

MADSEN:  Chinese intellectuals -- this goes way, way back -- don't think the Chinese people are truly religious.  That's what they told the Jesuits 400 years ago.  The Jesuits saw these Mandarin intellectuals, and the said, well, you know what, we're not religious, you know, we don't have religion here.  And the Jesuits basically said, all right, they just have morality, no religion, so forth and so on when 99 percent of the people had -- worshipping in temples and everything else.  And I've seen the same thing.  I've been to China, I've been -- it's a very sophisticated people, on foreign policy and so forth, I think telling me absolutely sincerely, not cynically, that we don't have any religion here.  (Laughs.)  And I think they basically believe it, because that's their image of themselves.

So, there's blind spots that just don't have to do with the -- (background noise) -- education.  And so it's a problem for intellectuals that want to be modern to just kind of wrap their minds around how you basically kind of come to grips with a society which all these other things are going on.

And I think they're confused.  They're as confused as we are (laughs), not more.

WELD:  I won't to pick on you right now because -- (scattered laughter.)

And for a large number of years now the local government's main mission has been to create economic growth.  Does -- do local officials in any way connect their focus on economic growth, with the growth of religion?  Is it a reasonable expectation, or is religion seem to be antithetical to that?

Anybody can answer.

WELLER:  I'll -- I'll try to talk about that.  Do they have -- do officials have that in mind?

WELD:  Yeah.

WELLER:  Mostly, no.  And the exceptions are areas with large amounts of migration.  So that you have, say, Fujian and Guangdong on the Southeast coast.  You have had generations of people going abroad, and living abroad, but maintaining ties or hoping now to renew ties back home.  For them -- and what brings these people back home?  Relatives, yes.  But the graves and ancestral halls of their ancestors, and the temples -- of which they have daughter temples in Singapore, or New York, or wherever they are.

So, they're coming back and those people have cash in their pockets, or they're perceived at least, to have cash in their pockets by the local officials.  So, in those cases, mostly that Southeast coast, going up into the Hangzhou area, right, in those cases, yes, they see a direct connection between this renewal of a kind of overseas religious trade, and business opportunities.

In other areas I don't think they see a direct connection.  But it's an important issue:  is religion helpful or not helpful for economic development, right?  We have a big literature on this right now around the world.  So one of the explanations for the rapid expansion of Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism in, say, Latin America, is that it's a -- one that's led to a lot more market success for poor people than the Catholicism that they have been brought up with.

China is a different situation, though.  And here I'd emphasize what others, especially in the first session already emphasized, it's a very low level of institutionalization of religion and, therefore, extremely flexible.  That is, there are no  blocks against economic behavior in their religion.  Even -- there could have been.  Confucianism is not friendly toward the merchants, right.  Those were the lowest of classes.

But, go ask a Chinese person anywhere whether they buy that, even the ones reviving Confucianism, you're not going to hear that anymore.  Instead, what you have is this very flexible popular religion, and pieces of it have magnified that are very comfortable with the market economy.  Temples were run as corporations -- shareholding corporations, very often.  The word Gongsu which means a company, a modern corporation, in modern Chinese originally meant "the group that ran a temple."

So that quality of shareholding, of contacts, which were typically associated with these kinds of things -- and every peasant household in China usually had contracts, land deeds, but also contracts for dividing the family property at the death of the parents, or something like that.  There's a lot in this very embedded socio-religious tradition -- I hesitate to call it all religion, but in this "embedded thing," there is a lot there that fits really easily with the modern economy.  And we see this in all Chinese communities that seem very comfortable with the modern economy.

WELD:  Adam -- (inaudible).

CHAU:  Yeah, I could add to that.  I guess the general climate of commercialization and commoditization in China today really added vibrancy to China's religious development.  For example, one study shows anybody now can just raise funds and then decide to build a temple.

It's -- it's basically a very simple matter.  If you feel a particular Buddha has appeared in your dream, and then he or she wants a temple built in a particular locale, you raise the money and persuade the local villagers that, I want to build a temple to this deity.  And if the villagers say, okay, you can do it.  And then part of the funds can be used to hire resident temple cleric.  And then a community of believers will develop around this.

Another study which shows, for example, a lot of the Wenzhou merchants -- you know, Wenzhou, of course, is famous for commercial activities, and, you know, a lot of merchants have gone down to basically every corner of China.  But there are a lot of Christian bosses now in Wenzhou.

After they earn a lot of money they come back and built churches in Wenzhou and in rural areas, and then compete with each other in terms of, like, whose temple, or -- I mean, whose church is bigger.  And this kind of local competitive spirit is not only in their business culture but also in their church building and temple festival culture.  So I think the economic aspect is going to be increasingly important.

WELD:  I didn't want to miss -- this is the last question which, actually I want- maybe I should ask you all to give -- to ask your questions first.  And I can insert this final one if I have a chance.  So let's have questions from the audience.

Mayfair?

QUESTIONER:  Mayfair Yang.  I'm Mayfair Yang, I spoke earlier in the first panel.

I'd like to pursue this question of religion and economic development because I think it hasn't been stressed enough and it's very important.  I think it's a real tragedy of the 20th century Chinese intellectuals that they thought that in order to develop and modernize economically, that they must kill religion because religion they put into the category of backwardness and superstition and --

(Cross talk.)

QUESTIONER:  -- and so forth because, actually if you look at the history of China, China had commercialization even much earlier than the West.  It had a printing industry much earlier than the West.  So what -- we can say that China had pre-modern capitalism in the Song Dynasty, that was the commercial revolution, that was the urban revolution in China.  And it was also in the Song Dynasty that popular religion came to take the shape that it does now.

One can also say that, you know, the paper money, as legal tender, was invented in China in the Song Dynasty, that's about 1000 A.D.  And previous to that, religious money, spirit money that is burned in offerings to the ancestors and to the gods, was invented before paper money as legal tender by 400 years.  The earliest traces are about 400 years before the invention of paper money as legal tender.

So -- also if you look at the compass, the modern compass, another famous Chinese invention, that was originally invented and put immediately to religious uses in geomancy -- positioning gravesites -- before it came to be used as a geographical navigation instrument.  So there's a huge, you know -- and then Chinese medicine has all these connections with Daoism -- our chemical traditions cultivations of the body.

So, it's, again, a very wrong assumption that 20th century Chinese intellectuals have that to have modern science and technology you have to kill religion; to have modern economic development you have to kill religion.  So that -- you know, religion is tied up with economy and science in the past in China.

WELD:  Does the panel have any -- do you agree, or what would you like to do?

MADSEN:  I would agree.  Incidentally, though, one kind of, you know, discourse, a way of talking about this, in Taiwan -- this may come into play in China now, is that these festivals, local festivals waste money.  And they've been -- one way the Taiwan government controlled some local religion was to basically have rules against spending too much money on these local festivals.

So, there's a way of thinking that this pumps money into the economy, but spending all this money on these kind of things is money could better -- could be spent on, you know, economic capital, growth, and so forth and so on.   Whether that's true or not is another issue, but I think they think that way.

WELLER:  If I can expand on that one.  My earliest days in Taiwan were the late 1970s, and this was the constant refrain:  that it's a waste of money to raise pigs to offer to the god at New Years -- even though you're going to eat the pig later, it's a waste of money, it's unsanitary.  It's a waste of money buying all this paper spirit money that you're just going to burn up.  It's a waste of money -- well, it's all a waste of money.

What does that mean it's a waste of money?  Somebody went to a market and bought the paper spirit money.  Somebody made this paper spirit money in a factory and paid wages.  What does that mean it's a waste of money?  It really means the money is circulating in a very local side of the economy, rather than being taxed and going to the central government who's using it for some giant state-planned automotive industry, or something like that.

How has Taiwan thrived?  Not through gigantic state-planned automotive companies.  They tried things like that.  It never worked out very well.  It's "mom and pop" capitalism that really carried Taiwan.  And a lot of the dynamism in China is "mom and pop" capitalism.  A lot of the dynamism in overseas Chinese communities is "mom and pop" capitalism, quite different from, say, Korea or Japan.

And this sort of local religiosity, and the investment in local community circulation of money, is totally sensible, I think, within that kind of a framework, and appropriate for China.

WELD:  Yes?

QUESTIONER:  I'm Helena Kolenda with the Luce Foundation.

I had question related to this, sort of, embedded versus disembedded religion, and the impact of the one-child policy on that -- the likelihood of it.  I recognize that you said there hasn't been a lot of sociological or anthropological research, but if people are not so embedded into a community or a familial structure, because there is only one child, their relationship to ancestors may shift and so on.  Has there been any evidence of then a move toward the more disembedded forms of individual religion as a result?

MADSEN:  I think in the countryside, first of all, they don't really have a one-child policy.  People have more than one child, especially if the first one is a girl.  So there are more children, and larger families than you might think.  And I think in those rural areas you're seeing plenty -- not everywhere, but plenty of revival of this local religion, like you've been talking about.

I think in the cities it's more of an issue.  And there I would maybe think that, you know, there's, there's a certain pressure on individuation -- of people, to kind of, find their own way.  And, in so far as they want larger sources of meaning, I could see how certain kinds of religion would be attractive to them.

CHAU:  Actually, I think a research project on the religiosity of the one-child -- I mean, the only children in urban areas of China would be a real interesting endeavor.

I actually want to relate this issue to the pursuit of sociality in urban China.  Because of the increasing atomization of society, and also because of the one-child policy, increasingly children grow up without, you know, extensive kinship network.

I think that might be one of the reasons they are attracted to a Christian congregational type of religion, because of the -- these congregations can provide sociality and a sense of a collective purpose.  It's not purely spiritual, but also social.

WELD:  I just have a brief question having to do with, sort of, the actual -- how these religious, especially Christian religious groups might help the growth of the economy.  People reach out to family, of course, for capital in China, generally, if they're starting an enterprise.  Do they reach out to their fellow congregation members?  Has anybody looked at that?  Do they reach out to other people in the temple?

WELLER:  I don't know of any studies of this in the PRC.  There have been some -- a bit in Taiwan where, as Dick said, Christianity isn't in great shape, and so that hasn't been too big of a player.  But temples, yes.  But other semi- religious forms like "sworn brotherhoods," like these kinds of relationships, or friend -- formalized relationships of friends that always involve a god alter.  Those are important in raising money, as kinship networks are also important.  And that -- and kinship has the religious aspect of it too.

I'd just say an anthropological footnote to the one-child policy, it does really have big implications for the lineage because you can't be patrilineal if you have only one child, because then the mother's side -- because it's one grandchild for both the mother's side and the father's side.  And you can't have somebody who's not worshipped by any descendent, so that kid is going to have to worship the mother's side as well as the father's side.

WELD: Yes?

QUESTIONER:  Walter Mead, Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to this, sort of, embedded, disembedded dichotomy, it seems to me there's another one for religion, which is sort of the ideologized versus non-ideologized.  That is, a religion that's elaborated into a kind of a total explanatory framework.  And it seems a lot of 20th century Chinese history has been about the intrusion of an ideology into a -- what was once a rather non-ideological society.  That may not be right, I'd be interested to know.

And how -- it seems to me somehow that shocks, and change and uncertainty tend to force people toward a more ideologized approach to life.  How are the changes sweeping through China now -- the economic changes, changes in real life, and so on, how are they affecting the balance between ideological visions of religion and non- ideological?

MADSEN:  My sense is that religion is -- and so whatever problems may come from this ideologized vision of life, they're not coming from religious life in China.  Religious life is very practical, it's very down-to-earth.  Even historically, it's never been too big on systematic doctrines and so forth.  And I think that's still basically the case today in China.  The ideology -- ideologies of nationalists and so forth are what the problem is -- where the problem is, I think.   And even traditional -- in my book, I mention this -- traditionally, this is the good in Chinese.  They're always kind of relativistic and kind of flexible and so forth, not this big conflict between good and evil.  So in the 20th century, when they develop -- talked about good and evil under Communism, that set up a whole new vocabulary basically for it, right; this kind of thing.  So I think religion in China probably is maybe one of the things that would mitigate against radical, fundamentalist kind of ideologies overall.

QUESTIONER:Thank you.  I'm Janet Carroll from the U.S. Catholic China Bureau.  My question was, back in our discussion a few minutes ago, the restoration of the three traditional festivals, with holidays around Qingming and the others, I was wondering how significant or not that is in terms of this attention to this religious, religiosity types of expression taking the time from, say, the Spring Festival or the other national holidays.  Is that anything significant, and how does that play out in the -- you know, in the larger picture as well as at the local realities among people?

WELLER:  The first time I traveled rather widely to China was 1984, so long before this.  And I remember being on a bus or something at Qingming, and everybody was out sweeping the tombs.  You know, it wasn't -- it had no regal blessing at all.  It was certainly in this gray area, and yet there's enough social space, even then -- (background noise) -- everybody could go out and do.  So does this new regulation change peoples' real behavior?  Not so much.  So I think it's significance-wise elsewhere.  It's significance-wise in the government making a statement.  And I think a lot of these regulations should not be read as attempts to regulate.  I mean, we already had numerous current environmental, as much as religious, legislation or regulation that isn't implemented and there's no real attempt to do it.  It's a statement of ideals.

It's a piece of propaganda in the Chinese sense of propaganda.  And, you know, what are they saying here?  They're saying, some of this activity is not so superstitious and terrible after all, and let's go ahead and give it our blessing, to use a religious word.  (Scattered laughter.)

MADSEN:  One place this comes into play, though, is Taiwan and Hong Kong.  There -- there is a big issue about, for example, making Buddha's birthday a national holiday.  And under the colonial regime in Hong Kong, Christmas was a holiday, not Buddha's birthday.  IN Taiwan, Buddha's birthday wasn't either, right?  It was -- Christmas was a day off.  So it became an issue about, you know, whether we should have our own culture's, you know, icons made into holidays, and, in fact, that happened in both places.

CHAU:  Actually, I think the revival of Qingming on the mainland of course would have an implication for a lot of families who have not buried their deceased properly in a traditional way, in a mountain, in a grave, so that you can go sweep the grave because, you know, most of these -- they have cremated the bodies and then there -- you know, very minimal space or physical reminders of the deceased.

So I think -- and I've seen, for example, online commemorative sites developed where -- this is a very new development in the past few years, where people will set up internet commemorative sites where people can post their thoughts and memories of the deceased and there are little, you know, symbolic flames going on on the screen, and I think there's a lot of potential in that kind of development in how new technology can help retain traditional sentiment and commemoration.

WELD:  Also, it's a new territory for --

CHAU: -- services, yes.

WELD:  Other questions?  Yes, in the back.

QUESTIONER:This is a more a comment, but -- I mean, outside Beijing, now, Qingming is celebrated unbelievably, and where the graves are, I mean, I think it's grown by, I can't tell you.  I go out there picnicking with old Beijingers and, I mean, it's probably five times larger in the last five years.  And I read Bai.  You know -- and I have a long history there.  But what I encountered is something that keeps being -- and we're so -- and it's referred to a lot -- we're so used to religion being the container, as we define it, of morality, but there's a tremendous morality that's come forward from Daoism.  I mean, I encountered young businessmen who gave money away to a rural community and said, "We have everything we want now."  Incredible generosity and morality that I can't say I've encountered in my own country.  And it comes from some deep traditions and also about leadership that's rooted in Daoism and Confucianism.  And I don't know that Christianity has impacted in that same way.  It's impacted in other ways, but, and I'd like to know what you've encountered, but --

WELD:  Can I add to that?

QUESTIONER:Yes.

WELD:  -- the question of whether religion is going to be helpful in dealing with the issue of corruption and the current growth of the economy.

QUESTIONER:Guanzhou will be.

WELLER:  This is real corruption?  Well, in a place like Taiwan, religion is the source of the corruption, right?  The temples.  I mean, the issue was not so much -- basically, it's a personal economic relationship, so they don't believe in accounting procedures like we want our receipts and so forth.  So it's a matter of dealing with things that didn't stand scrutiny in a rationalized economy.  And there's, you know, money laundering -- all this kind of stuff was, you know, it was famous in Taiwan at those local temples.  And it's not so much -- and that's -- but then there's also calls for morality and decency and justice, you know, and not -- people not gouging and exploiting people either.  So the relationship between religion and corruption is kind of multi-leveled.  (Laughter.)

CHAU:  In my case, at least, the Heilongdawang, even the though the Black Dragon King is known locally as a really efficacious rain god.  But in recent years, well, especially traditionally as well, he's considered a very just god that will punish wrongdoers. And so you have, you know, in the temple a sculpture of a dragon holding the head of a wrongdoer and it's really scary.  And there are a lot of, you know, folklore legends about how, you know, a particular person did something wrong and then he was punished by the dragon king.  So local people would want to believe that local officials are actually scared of local deities because they have a lot to lose.  And so they will tell you, actually it's the officials who bring a lot of money to the temple sometimes by proxy because they don't want to appear in public at the temples.  So, yeah, so I don't know if in actuality it helps fight corruption.

WELLER:  I mean, that's the crucial issue if the tenets of a religion actually prevented corruption, you know, would there be a corrupt Islamic country, would there be a corrupt Christian country?  There obviously wouldn't.  I think what we're arguing is religion creates a lot of social capital or -- the Templeton Foundation has been pushing the spiritual capital version of this lately.  And, you know, fine -- and it does that.  It does those things.  That's important.  But we shouldn't confuse that with saying that, you know, any social capital is good social capital.  Corruption requires social capital. And so we need a broader contextual view to really understand the kind of simple cause and effect with religion here, I don't think it'll be adequate.

QUESTIONER:I was in China for a mission -- (inaudible) -- from the Catholic-China Bureau.  I was in China for one month.  I arrived two days before the earthquake and I came back Monday morning.  I was surprised to see on television and then in the newspapers a lot of religious vocabulary being used either by the people who were interviewed, like victims of the earthquake rescuers and officials.  And I don't know if you have the same kind of impression that religiosity or religion is pretty much alive in China, and this earthquake gave an opportunity for a lot of people to show it.  And it kind of snowballing effect that you would get more of it after, the next day, after listening to what was said or what you read the day before.  So from your vantage point, and as much as you were able to follow the situation in China during the month of May, if you -- the earthquake in itself is not also a kind of good indicator of the religiosity and the future in China that we are talking about now.

CHAU:  I have just a short comment.  I think, if anything, the earthquake and the outpouring of compassion for the victims actually erased the difference between people who are religious and who are -- and those who are usually not because, usually the, you know, the stereotypical understanding of religious people is they are really nice.  People in your everyday life encounter with them and those who are not Christians or Buddhists are not, you know, particularly nice or try to be nice.  But I think in this particular situation, it's really showing how those people, you know, in urban China who are not religious at all, you know, can express a very high level of love and compassion.  I think, you know, that's --

WELLER:  I would just answer that.  I think just as significant is the fact that this kind of language was covered in the newspapers.  Not that people behaved in this way, which doesn't surprise me that much, but that the government would report, for instance, that Tibetan monks read prayers for the dead.  And this was seen as, at the very least, psychologically useful.  It wasn't being condemned; it was a good -- it was a social contribution.  That's a really different attitude for the Chinese press to take.  So it seems like that I think maybe indicate a change.  Now what -- you know, will this last -- any of these effects, the NGO effect that we have seen just as much?  It's really hard to say, I don't know.

WELD: Yes.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  I'm Robby Barnett from Colombia.

Actually, I want to follow on from your comment because it helps with my question, which is I think under "hexie shehui", the harmonious society, there's been very important statements by Hu Jintao and a lot of senior officials in the press, especially about three years ago or so, saying that, repeatedly, religion can play an important contribution to the creation of our harmonious society.  So that's something that's coming from the top.  I haven't seen that so much the last year or so, but certainly '06, '07.  A lot of statements like that including specifically having Buddist lamas in certain places, Hong Kong, Xinjgain (sp), and so on, making those statements, specifically, and the world Buddhist forum. So there's certainly something pretty major that you're pointing to there that's going on for some time now.

The question I have, though, is sort of the opposite of that.  I wonder whether we are internalizing an official distinction, either when we talk about popular religion between religion and superstition because presumably there still is an area of social activity, which the state does consider superstition, and which it bans.  Now, of course, that area moves all the time, and obviously, it's not now spirit mediums in many cases.

But in the law, in criminal procedure, in the criminal code, you still have capital punishment for feudal superstition; seems to be defined as superstition related to the use of superstition to gain sexual relations with women and to gain money; at least that was how it was done in the '80's.  And there were people who were sentenced to death.  I remember cases in '89 where one didn't know much detail, you know, the little groups or communities where they were accused of doing that.

I wondered if you could comment on the freedoms, the regulatory state, what is still being banned in that way.  What is still being actively defined as superstition or feudal superstition or as illegal activity and acted upon?  Or has that just stopped?

MADSEN:  My reading of it is that the regulations are -- first of all, they are not laws, they're regulations, and the category system is very flexible.  So, if they think something is feudal superstition, or for that matter an evil cult, then you're in big trouble.  But there's no real fixed definition, so you can't go and get a lawyer and say, you know, "This is protected under the constitution because this is religion and this meets the definition."   It's very flexible. So if they think something is causing very social unrest or is problematic, they'll just define it as either feudal superstition or, you know, an evil cult, and then they can bring the full weight of the state to bear.  But it's not a fixed objective criteria that you can use to defend an inalienable right to practice it.

WELLER:  Yeah, I completely agree with that.  I think much of Chinese law, especially relating to these kinds of rights issues is purposely ambiguous, and that's the case here as well.  So, you know, at the moment, that's been working in favor of religion.  It leaves a huge grey area, and the government is mostly leaving that alone.  So something like spirit mediums -- if you ask them, they'll tell you it's feudal superstition, I'm pretty sure.  But it's don't ask, don't tell.  You know, they'll let it go.

But, you know, should policy change?  They don't need to change any regulations in order to start repressing all of this stuff again.  And I think that's what they want.  It's not too different from some other authoritarian strategies; Singapore law has aspects that are just like that.

WELD:  I'll take one more question, and it's because -- thank you.

QUESTIONER:  Hi, I'm Rebecca Nedostup from Boston College and an earlier session.  I was wondering if you could just say a few words about what you think the future is, if any, of the official religious associations, because it's very clear that, from what you've been saying, that they don't necessarily play much of a role in the flourishing of local religion, and that's certainly not where the impetus is coming from.  But I'm wondering what role they might be playing in two areas -- sort of the culturalization of religion, if that's going to be what the regulatory framework is going to be in the future, and in some international context.  I'm thinking particularly about how the Daoist association has been important in establishing a lot of academic contacts with Taoists in Hong Kong, and especially sort of academic studies and they sort of tend to sit, to some extent, in the cultural framework, but also in the ritual framework as well.

So is there any future movement in that state framework of official associations, or are they going to be increasingly less relevant?

CHAU:  I think there will be increasing efforts to elevate the status of human-based superstitious activities of -- (inaudible) -- religions especially Daoism.  So as we already know, the majority of Daoist priests have never belonged to the Chinese Daoist Association because they are householder religious service ritualists, and they are dispersed widely in the countryside.  They are hired for their ritual services and they will never even -- so they are beyond the control and registration and all that of the Daoist Association.  But I think they will be continued to be ignored, basically, by the Daoist association whether or not -- but they -- at the same time, they fit the model of householder businesses, because they are actually, you know, making money by providing a service, so that's sort of very difficult for the Chinese state to recognize it, because once you recognize it, you recognize the superstitious content of their service.  And if you don't recognize them, they are also an important aspect of the local economy.  So it's a very strange situation.

MADSEN:  These patriotic associations are only for the five recognized religions, and so feudal superstition doesn't -- there's no association for futile superstition.  (Laughter.)  Or not one for evil cults, either. (Laughter).  It's only for these groups.  And in some -- and the Daoists, I don't know -- I know one issue is, like the Catholic one I know about, you know, more.  And I think that group at least is becoming irrelevant in various ways -- say, a functional sociologist would say it's not useful anymore.  But there's a political aspect.  You have the officials, the people who have made their careers at, you know, running this association are going to hang on to their jobs and to that association until they die.  And so there's kind of a rigidity to this thing that's based on the dynamics of Chinese politics and generational politics, too.

WELLER:  And I think that's the key issue.  So if you change the political landscape, all those associations disappear because they have no non-political function, the way the Buddhist association of the Republic of China, the Taiwanese corporatist body for Buddhists essentially became irrelevant immediately after they democratized, and instead we got these -- (inaudible) -- and these other non-official organizations just skyrocketed at exactly the same moment.  China could do that voluntarily.  It could do that because of a political transformation, like what happened in Taiwan, or it could not do that, in which case I think we'll see this continued kind of tension that we see in the two Christian groups and the Buddhist group.  At least the Daoist one and the Islamic one I think are a bit different.

WELD:  Well, thank you very much.  I think we've actually gone to the end of the time we have.  Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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