Taiwanese Religions

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TAIWANESE RELIGIONS . The term Taiwanese religions is used here to describe the religious beliefs and practices of the people who inhabit Taiwan, regardless of their ethnic or sub-ethnic backgrounds. Taiwan has long been recognized for its diverse range of religious traditions. As different groups of Taiwanese have attempted to find meaningful ways to confront life crises, social disorder, natural disasters, and a sense of injustice, they have created a wide range of beliefs and practices, each with its own distinctive background and characteristics. This diversity befits Taiwan's historical development as an island situated in a key commercial and strategic location, and justifies the use of the plural form in considering its religious traditions.

Historical Overview

Taiwan was first settled by Aboriginal peoples of Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) origin, with significant immigration from the Chinese mainland only beginning by the seventeenth century. During the Qing dynasty (16441911), the island was largely a frontier region that never became fully integrated into the Chinese empire. However, Han Chinese migrants brought their gods over from China, and worshipped them in various compatriot, territorial, and commercial temples. Various Chinese sectarian movements, as well as Christianity, also began to spread in developed areas of Taiwan, but it appears that no eminent Buddhist or Daoist figures came to the island at this time.

During the colonial era (18951945), when Taiwan was ruled by Japan, the island enjoyed a prolonged period of urbanization and industrialization, which laid a firm foundation for its economic development. Taiwanese religious traditions flourished during most of this era, despite policy shifts from laissez-faire (18951915) to regulation (19151930s) to efforts to co-opt Buddhism and Christianity while suppressing sectarian movements and temple cults under a "temple-restructuring" campaign enacted during the "Japanization" movement (1930s1940s).

Taiwan became a province of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1945, and the Nationalist (Guomindang) government relocated to Taiwan in 1949 after its defeat in the Chinese civil war. Many prominent religious specialists followed the Nationalists over from China during these chaotic years, including eminent Buddhist monks, the Daoist Celestial Master (Tianshi), leaders of sectarian traditions such as the Way of Unity (Yiguan Dao), and Christian missionaries. More recently, Tibetan Buddhists and members of new Japanese religions have begun to proselytize in Taiwan. While the state kept a close watch on these movements during the early decades of the postwar era, the end of martial law in 1987 marked the beginning of a new era of religious development.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Taiwan boasts one of the most dynamic religious environments in East Asia. In contrast with China, where religion is only gradually emerging from the shadow of long-term oppression by a totalitarian regime, Taiwanese religions are thriving and even expanding. Freedom of religion has always been guaranteed under the ROC Constitution, Article 13 of which clearly states, "the people shall have freedom of religious beliefs." However, now that Taiwan has developed into a democracy, people can practice the religious tradition of their choice without fear of state suppression. Members of any religious faith are free to congregate and introduce their belief systems to others, while previously outlawed sectarian movements now operate openly and continue to expand. The legitimacy of Taiwan's religious traditions can also be seen in the formation of the Taiwan Association of Religious Studies, which was founded on April 18, 1999, and has attracted the membership of dozens of students, faculty, and religious specialists from both Taiwan and other countries.

Another striking facet of religion in Taiwan is that economic growth and technological development have not resulted in the decline of religious practice; on the contrary, many educated men and women who surf the web on a daily basis apparently feel no qualms about practicing religion, and many large religious organizations and temples have their own websites.

Aboriginal Religions

Taiwan's most venerable religious traditions are those of its Aboriginal peoples, who are usually classified by place of residence as Plains Aborigines and Mountain Aborigines. Long-term processes of acculturation and even assimilation have diluted the aborigines' religious traditions, which generally centered on ancestor worship, lifecycle rituals, and annual festivals. Moreover, numerous aborigines have converted to Christianity, especially Presbyterianism. Some Aboriginal beliefs and practices have survived, however, and are gaining increasing recognition from scholars and government officials. These religious traditions continue to play important roles in a Aboriginal life, and also serve as a vital force in the reformation of aborigine identity.


Historical evidence indicates that no eminent Buddhist monks came to Taiwan during the Qing dynasty, although some monks did make the journey across the Taiwan Straits from southern China in order to help manage temples in Taiwan that were constructed by the state or local communities. During the colonial era, lay Buddhists and members of the sagha attempted to evade state control by actively cooperating with Japanese Buddhists. Some subordinated their sacred sites administratively to Japanese Buddhist lineages. Others formed religious associations that pledged their loyalty to the colonial authorities, including the Patriotic Buddhist Association, the Buddhist Youth Association, the Taiwan Friends of the Buddhist Way, and largest and perhaps most important of all, the South Seas Buddhist Association. Nevertheless, Chinese Buddhists monastics managed to preserve many of their core beliefs and practices, and did not copy their Japanese brethren to the extent of getting married, eating meat, and drinking wine.

The postwar era has witnessed the growth of four prominent Buddhist organizations: the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China, which until the 1960s served as the state-approved and sole representative of Buddhists in Taiwan; the monastic order known as the Buddha's Light Mountain (Foguangshan), which was founded by Venerable Master Xingyun (Hsing-yun; b. 1927) and promotes a form of humanistic Buddhism advocated by the reformer Taixu (18901947); the Compassionate Relief Merit Society (Ciji gongdehui), which was founded in 1966 by Master Zhengyan (Cheng-yen;b. 1937) and has gained renown worldwide for its charitable works; and Dharma Drum Mountain (Fagushan), which was founded by Venerable Master Shengyan (Sheng-yen; b. 1930) and emphasizes the importance of meditation and self-cultivation. The number of lay Buddhists in Taiwan has also increased since the 1960s, but since most Taiwanese tend to identify themselves as "Buddhists" regardless of whether or not they have been initiated into this religious tradition, the exact number of practicing Buddhists in Taiwan is nearly impossible to quantify. One new development has been the growing influence of exiled Tibetan monks of the Tantric Buddhist sect, who have attracted a sizeable following in Taiwan since the 1980s. The Dalai Lama visited the island in 1997 and 2001.


Daoist practice can be bifurcated into monastic and nonmonastic traditions, both of which have played important roles in the history of Chinese religions. In Taiwan, however, the former tradition has almost no presence. The nonmonastic tradition is far more influential, especially the Celestial Master movement, the leader of which has the authority to bestow ordination registers on Taiwanese Daoist masters. A number of Daoist traditions that arose in southern China are also prevalent in Taiwan, including the Lüshan, Pu'an, and Sannai movements. Hoklo and Hakka masters from China's southern provinces of Fujian and Guangdong transmitted these different forms of Daoism to Taiwan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and scholars are only beginning to fully appreciate the variation in distribution and practice among Daoist masters belonging to different sub-ethnic groups, particularly in terms of their liturgical traditions.

After the sixty-third Celestial Master Zhang Enpu followed the Nationalist government into exile in 1949, he attempted to restructure Taiwanese Daoism by founding the Daoist Association of the Province of Taiwan and the Daoist Assembly of the Republic of China. However, these organizations have exerted only a limited influence on the Daoist movements mentioned above. Their liturgical traditions, including exorcistic and healing rites as well as mortuary rituals, are still frequently performed today, and Daoist masters continue to play key roles in communal festivals, particularly those involving Daoist offerings (jiao ; often referred to as "rites of renewal").

Christianity and other Foreign Religions

The first Christian missionaries arrived in Taiwan during the early years of the seventeenth century. These included Spanish Catholics who proselytized in the north and Dutch Protestants who proselytized in the south. However, they do not appear to have attracted many converts, and ended up being driven out of Taiwan by Koxinga (16241662). No subsequent missionizing efforts took place until the second half of the nineteenth century. Spanish Dominicans attempted to preach the gospel among Plains Aborigines in the hills and mountains of southern Taiwan, and educate catechists by opening a seminary and training school, but these efforts were largely unsuccessful until the early twentieth century. English and Canadian Presbyterians exerted a far more significant influence throughout Taiwan. Among the most renowned Presbyterian missionaries of that era were Dr. James L. Maxwell (18361921) and Dr. George L. Mackay (18441901). Both combined proselytizing and healing: Maxwell was an unordained medical missionary, while Mackay pulled teeth and built hospitals. Like the Dominicans, the Presbyterians were most successful in attracting converts among Taiwan's Plains Aborigines, and were unable to make any inroads in Mountain Aborigine communities until the 1930s. Despite initial slow growth and cases of persecution, the Presbyterians were able to gain a significant following for a number of reasons, including having women accompany their missionary husbands (which allowed them to interact far more freely with Han Chinese and Aboriginal women), printing Bibles that used a romanized form of Southern Min (Taiwan's main local dialect), and publishing a journal entitled The Church News beginning in July 1885. Now named the Taiwan Church News, this journal is still being published today, and may be the oldest church newspaper in East Asia. Education also played an important role in Presbyterian missionizing efforts, with the Tainan Theological College being formally founded in 1880, and middle schools and girls' schools being set up during the late nineteenth century as well.

Christianity flourished during much of the colonial era, as the Japanese were initially tolerant of a religion that they saw as representing Western modernity. The Dominicans founded the Blessed Imelda School for Girls in 1917 in Taipei, and also established catechist schools in central and southern Taiwan, as well as the Santa Infancia of Holy Childhood Orphanage in the south. In addition, Methodist evangelists like Dr. John Sung (19011944), who converted thousands of followers throughout Asia, proselytized in Taiwan. Japanese Christians also came to Taiwan, including members of the Japanese Anglican (Episcopal), Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches. The colonial era also witnessed the development of two indigenous Christian churches: the Holiness and the True Jesus.

The Presbyterians continued to build and manage hospitals, as well as the Happy Mount Leprosy Colony (founded in northern Taiwan in 1934). Presbyterian theological colleges in northern and southern Taiwan also thrived, while the Reverend William Campbell (18411921) founded a school for the blind in southern Taiwan in 1900 to 1901. Missionary efforts to preach the gospel were further facilitated by the on-going translation and publishing of scriptures in romanized Southern Min. Other dedicated evangelists like Campbell N. Moody (18661940), who preached in over 900 of 1,100 villages in one county, also proved instrumental to the continuing growth of the Presbyterian movement. Presbyterian leaders made great efforts to develop their church's self-sufficiency by training local clergy and establishing a united Presbyterian church (the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan). This took the form of a synod, with presbyteries in the north and south of the island serving as equal partners. This self-sufficiency helped the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan survive the difficult years of the late colonial and early postwar era.

During the 1930s, Christian believers engaged in a series of tense confrontations with the colonial authorities over politically charged issues such as whether Christians should worship at Shintō shrines. Roman Catholics decided to attend, and English Presbyterians acquiesced as well, but Canadian Presbyterians were adamant in refusing to take part. All Christian movements eventually lost control of schools and other church properties by the 1940s. Many foreign missionaries left Taiwan, while others were expelled; local Christians were harassed, and some detained. In 1943, all local churches were absorbed into the Japanese-run Christian Church of Taiwan, and many churches suffered during the Allied bombing of Taiwan. By the end of World War II, however, English and Canadian Presbyterian missionaries had begun to make plans to return to the island.

Taiwan's churches kept a low profile during the early years of the postwar era, particularly after the February 28 indicent of 1947, during which thousands of Taiwanese were massacred by Nationalist forces intent on suppressing a local uprising. From 1965 to 1985, however, the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan began to publicly criticize the cultural policies of Taiwan's Nationalist government, while also advocating Taiwanese identity. The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan resisted attempts to promote Mandarin as a national language at the expense of local dialects, and continued to publish Bibles using Southern Min romanization, even after thousands of copies were confiscated. Some leaders, such as the Reverend Kao Chun-min, went to prison for their beliefs. At the same time, however, the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan and other churches managed to survive and even grow due to the Nationalist policy of opening Taiwan's doors to Western missionaries, including Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics (Jesuits, Vincentians, and the Catholic Missionary Society of America, also known as the Maryknoll Order), Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutherans, Methodists, Mormons, Pentecostals (mainly members of the Assemblies of God), and the Unification Church. However, most missionaries belonging to these churches did not speak Southern Min, and unlike the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan made little headway outside of Taiwan's major cities. Indigenous churches also grew during the postwar era, particularly Holy Spirit, which belongs to the Pentecostal movement.

Christianity in Taiwan is thriving at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Roman Catholicism made a remarkable comeback in Taiwan after 1949, when multitudes of Catholic clergy and believers followed the Nationalists to the island, thereby infusing local Catholicism with new strength and vigor. According to government statistics, as of June 2001 there were 1,135 Catholic churches, 677 clergymen, and 664 foreign missionaries in Taiwan serving nearly 300,000 believers. By that same date, the Protestant congregation had expanded to approximately 605,000 members, with 3,609 churches, 2,566 ministers, and 1,087 foreign ministers. Of these, over 220,000 were members of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, which has begun to focus its efforts on social welfare and environmental protection. The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan was active in organizing relief efforts after the devastating earthquake on September 21, 1999, and the church worked alongside other Christian organizations, such as the Chinese Christian Relief Association, to help local communities engage in reconstruction efforts.

Other foreign religions in Taiwan include Islam, Judaism, Bahā'ī, Tenrikyō, and Mahikarikyō. The largest of these is Islam. Approximately twenty thousand Muslims accompanied the Nationalist government to Taiwan in 1949, the majority of whom were soldiers, civil servants, or food-service workers. As of June 2001 Taiwan was home to approximately 53,000 Muslims, as well as thirty-four mullahs and six mosques.

Sectarian Religions

By the eighteenth century, sectarian movements composed mostly of lay Buddhist believers had begun to make their presence felt in Taiwan. Subsequently labeled "vegetarian religions" (zhaijiao ) by the Japanese colonial authorities, these sects featured a membership of men and women who identified themselves as adhering to a form of Buddhism that exists apart from and is superior to that of the ordained Buddhist clergy. In terms of practice, believers generally perform a variety of Buddhist rituals, but adopt a strict diet that requires abstaining from meat and five types of pungent roots (onions, chives, leeks, scallions, and garlic). Many vegetarian sects became popular due to their willingness to perform rites for the dead, often at rates cheaper than those charged by ordained Buddhist and Daoist specialists. Some sects also featured latent millenarian doctrines, an issue that gained the attention of the colonial authorities after a millenarian-inspired uprising in 1915 known as the Xilai An Iincident. In order to survive the subsequent crackdown, some members of vegetarian sects organized the Taiwan Buddhist Dragon Flower Association (Fojiao Longhua hui) in order to demonstrate their allegiance to the island's Japanese overlords. Today, although many Taiwanese have adopted different forms of vegetarian diets, the overall influence of vegetarian movements is declining due to the rapid growth of the Buddhist organizations mentioned above.

The latter half of the nineteenth century was a period of rapid growth for other sectarian groups that practiced spirit-writing, published morality books, and congregated at sacred sites often referred to as "phoenix halls" (luantang ). Some scholars refer to such sects as "Confucian," while some groups have not hesitated to use this term as an autonym. The question of exactly how "Confucian" these movements really are is difficult to resolve because this term has long been used to describe a wide variety of phenomena, including temples founded by state or local elites that are dedicated to the worship of Confucius, secular organizations that stress Confucian teachings, such as the Confucius-Mencius Society, and a wide range of sectarian groups, such as the Divine Teachings of the Confucian Tradition (Ruzong shenjiao). Modern sects in China and Taiwan have not hesitated to use the term Confucian to describe their tenets and practices, but for these groups, Confucianism includes unique and syncretic interpretations of key Confucian philosophical texts, as well as a distinctive liturgical style that differentiates them from other similar and hence competing groups.

Many sects that practice spirit-writing or publish morality books remain highly popular in Taiwan today. Perhaps the largest and best-known movement is the Way of Unity, which spread to Taiwan from China during the postwar era and features an eclectic religious doctrine that draws upon both traditional Chinese religious teachings and other major world religions like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. Outlawed during the first decades of the postwar era, it is now a flourishing movement. According to government statistics, as of June 2001 there were 3,218 large or medium-sized Yiguan Dao temples in Taiwan, with 2,326 temple priests serving approximately 887,000 believers. However, these numbers may be somewhat inflated, and the Way of Unity has undergone a series of schisms during the postwar era, meaning that this data should not be seen as reflecting a single coherent religious movement. Other popular sectarian groups include Li-ism (Doctrine of Order), which like the Way of Unity was transmitted from China to Taiwan after 1949, as well as a wide range of groups generally referred to as "new religions" (xinxing zongjiao ) that arose during the postwar era, particularly following the lifting of martial law. One of the best known of these groups is the Religion of the Yellow Emperor (Xuanyuan jiao), which was formally founded in Taiwan in 1957 by a legislator named Wang Hansheng. This sect attempts to promote Chinese nationalism, and preaches a syncretic philosophy combining elements of Confucianism and Daoism. Other charismatic yet controversial leaders, including Lu Shengyan, Miaotian, Qinghai, and Song Qili, have formed sectarian associations that have attracted large numbers of dedicated followers but have yet to eclipse more established religions in terms of numbers of believers and overall influence.

Communal Religious Traditions

Of Taiwan's many various beliefs and practices, communal religious traditions centering on temple cults and festivals remain the most popular and the most prevalent. Temples continue to play an integral role in individual, family, and community life, and temple cults have retained their importance as sites for daily worship, community service, and massive festivals. Membership in a temple cult is ascriptive, and does not require any form of initiation, so it is impossible to accurately calculate the exact number of men and women who belong to communal religious traditions. However, every year hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese (including many members of the religious traditions discussed above) donate money to local temples and take part in their festivals.

Most deities worshipped in temple cults in Taiwan were transmitted to the island from China, but there are also cults to indigenous deities, particularly local heroes and the unruly dead. Taiwan's most ubiquitous deity is the Earth God (Tudi gong), whose temples dot every urban and rural community. Other popular deities include Mazu (originally the goddess of the sea, now worshipped as an all-powerful protective deity) and the Royal Lords (wangye; originally plague deities, but now invoked to counter all manner of calamities). These and other deities are worshipped for their ability to provide health and prosperity, while their temples and festivals contribute to the formation of local social structures and a sense of identity.

One particularly fascinating phenomenon of the postwar era has been the steady popularity of cults associated with the unruly dead or eccentric deities, such as the Buddhist monk Crazy Ji (Jigong or Jidian), who gained renown for his spiritual powers despite a distinct penchant for eating meat, drinking wine, and hanging out with prostitutes. Such cults were extremely active during the Everybody's Happy (Dajia le) lottery craze of the 1980s. The inauguration of a Lotto lottery in January 2002 has prompted a new wave of worship of Taiwan's unruly gods, although the current fervor has been somewhat tempered by the fact that more and more Taiwanese are choosing to rely on computer programs to try to predict winning numbers.

Another important development is that temples are no longer strictly local entities, but now play important roles on the national stage as well. The Nationalist government actively attempted to discourage temple cults during the 1960s and 1970s (for example, in 1968, the Ministry of the Interior promoted a series of guidelines to regulate local religion entitled "Promoting Frugality in Folk Sacrifices"), a policy that only began to change during the 1980s and has now been almost completely abandoned. Today's political elites increasingly appreciate the constructive roles temples play in Taiwanese society, and now limit any state intervention to sponsoring local festivals while also attempting to regulate their contents. In addition, the modernization of Taiwan's infrastructure and liberalization of the mass media has resulted in popular pilgrimage sites being able to exert an island-wide influence.

At the same time, since Taiwan began to democratize during the 1980s, temple cults have been more than passive observers of modernization and changing state policies; they now play activist roles in community life by building libraries and community centers, sponsoring cultural activities, such as chess tournaments and classes in traditional fine arts, and engaging in a wide range of charities. Presidential and legislative candidates network with local elites and strive to attract grassroots support by campaigning at temples to popular local deities, while some aspiring politicians have attempted use temple cults to advance their own interests against those of the state. One example of the intense and also complex links between religion, politics, and identity in contemporary Taiwan involves the abortive attempt by a prominent Mazu temple known as the Zhenlan Gong to undertake a direct pilgrimage to the goddess's ancestral temple in Fujian during the spring and summer of 2000, a move that challenged the policies of the then newly elected government of President Chen Shui-bian.

The flourishing of Taiwan's many religious traditions should come as no surprise to those who have studied the history of Chinese culture during the late imperial and modern eras. Religious associations and their sacred sites have long constituted one of the most important public spaces in Asian societies, and have been key arenas where elites and representatives of the state vied to assert or reinforce their dominance over local culture and society. In Taiwan today, democratization has further enhanced the importance of religion in community life, and prompted representatives of the state to be more proactive in terms of interacting with the island's religious traditions. A similar process may be beginning in China, where local communities are slowly beginning to reassert their autonomy and religious networks are once again functioning as a second government in the sense of providing services and mobilizing the population. The extent to which the growth of local religious traditions may have a long-term impact on modern Chinese society remains to be seen, but the outpouring of new ethnographic work on China, as well as the continuing efforts of scholars researching Taiwan and Hong Kong, should give us a more comprehensive perspective on this issue in the future.

See Also

Buddhism, article on Buddhism in China; Chinese Religion, overview article; Christianity, article on Christianity in Asia; Daoism, overview article.


A massive corpus of Chinese-language scholarship on Taiwanese religions has been published since the mid-1980s. Good introductions to this subject may be found in Chang Hsun and Jiang Tsann-terng, eds., Taiwan bentu zongjiao yanjiu daolun (Taipei, 2001), and Chang Hsun and Jiang Tsann-terng, eds., Taiwan bentu zongjiao yanjiu de xin shiye han xin siwei (Taipei, 2003). Some Western-language works also provide valuable introductions to Taiwan's religious traditions, including Philip Clart and Charles B. Jones, eds., Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society (Honolulu, 2003); Paul R. Katz and Murray A. Rubinstein, Religion and the Formation of Taiwanese Identities (New York, 2003); and Robert P. Weller, Alternate Civilities: Democracy and Culture in China and Taiwan (Boulder, Colo., 1999). See also a special issue of The China Quarterly 174 (June 2003), edited by Daniel L. Overmyer, entitled Religion in China Today. Scholars can also keep up with developments in the field by visiting the websites of the Taiwan Association of Religious Studies (tars.org.tw/tars.htm) and the Society for the Study of Chinese Religions (www.indiana.edu/~sscr).

Those who wish to learn more about Taiwan's historical development before exploring its religious traditions should begin by consulting Murray A. Rubinstein, ed., Taiwan: A New History (Armonk, N.Y., 1999), which provides a fine overview of the island's history. Stevan Harrell and Huang Chun-chieh, eds., Cultural Change in Postwar Taiwan (Boulder, Colo., 1994) treats the island's recent cultural development, while Melissa J. Brown, Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power, and Migration on Changing Identities (Berkeley, 2004) considers important issues of ethnicity and identity. Useful background information about Taiwan may also be found on the Formosa website prepared by the Reed Institute (academic.reed.edu/formosa/formosa_index_page/formosa_index.html), as well as on Taiwan's Government Information Office website (www.gio.gov.tw/taiwan-website/index.html).

Those wishing to begin their research by reading relevant secondary literature should consult the following bibliographies: Laurence G. Thompson, Chinese Religion in Western Languages: A Comprehensive and Classified Bibliography of Publications in English, French, and German through 1980 (Tucson, Ariz., 1985); Laurence G. Thompson and Gary Seaman, Chinese Religions: Publications in Western Languages, Vol. 2: 19811990 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1993); Thompson and Seaman, Chinese Religions: Publications in Western Languages, Vol. 3: 19911995 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1998); and Thompson, Seaman, and Zhifang Song, Chinese Religions: Publications in Western Languages, Vol. 4: 19962000 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 2002). Another key source of information is the bibliography prepared by Philip Clart (web.missouri.edu/~religpc/bibliography_CPR.html), which is updated on a regular basis. For a thorough bibliography of Chinese-language and Japanese-language scholarship, see Lin Mei-rong, ed., Taiwan minjian xinyang yanjiu shumu (zengding ban ), rev. ed. (Nankang, Taiwan, 1997).

A great deal of research has been done on Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples and their religious traditions, but relatively little has been published in English. A good place to start is John R. Shepherd's Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, 16001800 (Stanford, Calif., 1993), which provides an excellent account of Taiwan's Plains Aborigines. Numerous scholars at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, such as Huang Ying-kuei and Pan Ing-hai, have published extensively on Aboriginal religion in both Chinese and English, and scholars may keep track of their results by visiting the Institute of Ethnology website (www.sinica.edu.tw/ioe/english/index.html) and reading the Institute's Taiwan Journal of Anthropology. Useful background information may also be found in a special report on Taiwan's aborigines in Cultural Survival Quarterly 26, no. 2 (2002), available at www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/csq/index.cfm?id=26.2. See also the Council of Indigenous Peoples website (www.apc.gov.tw/en/).

Taiwanese Buddhism has been extensively studied by local scholars, with numerous important books and articles by Jiang Tsann-terng and Lu Hui-hsing. For accounts in English, one should start with Charles B. Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 16601990 (Honolulu, 1999), as well as Julia C. Huang, "Recapturing Charisma: Emotion and Rationalization in a Globalizing Buddhist Movement from Taiwan," Ph.D. diss. (Boston University, 2001).

Early research on Taiwan's Daoist traditions was initially undertaken by scholars like Kristofer M. Schipper and Liu Chi-wan, but now much of the most important work is being done by Lee Fong-mao. John Lagerwey's Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History (New York, 1987) provides a detailed account of Taiwan's liturgical Daoist traditions, while Kenneth Dean's Taoist Ritual and Popular Cults of Southeast China (Princeton, 1993) contains invaluable information on their origins and links to communal religious traditions in the province of Fujian.

A sizeable group of Taiwanese scholars has published in Chinese on Taiwan's sectarian movements, including Cheng Chih-ming, Chiu Hei-yuan, Li Shih-wei, Lin Pen-hsuan, Sung Kuang-yu, and Wang Chien-ch'uan. Among the most valuable studies published in English are David K. Jordan and Daniel L. Overmyer, The Flying Phoenix: Aspects of Chinese Sectarianism in Taiwan (Princeton, 1986), and Philip A. Clart, "The Ritual Context of Morality Books: A Case Study of a Taiwanese Spirit-writing Cult," Ph.D. diss. (University of British Columbia, 1996). See also Clart's "Confucius and the Mediums: Is there a 'Popular Confucianism'?" T'oung Pao 89, nos. 13 (2003): 128. Barend ter Haar's The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History (Leiden, 1992) contains a path-breaking analysis of the historical background of these movements.

Overviews of the history of Taiwanese Christianity include Hollington K. Tong's Christianity in Taiwan: A History (Taipei, 1961) and William Jerome Richardson's "Christianity in Taiwan under Japanese Rule, 18951945," Ph.D. diss. (Saint John's University, New York, 1972), which also contains useful appendices listing the names of all missionary personnel in Taiwan during the colonial era, as well as an annotated bibliography of relevant primary sources. See also Murray A. Rubinstein's classic study, The Protestant Community on Modern Taiwan: Mission, Seminary, and Church (Armonk, N.Y., 1991). Useful essays on Taiwanese Christianity may also be found in Daniel H. Bays, ed., Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Stanford, Calif., 1996), as well as Stephen Uhalley Jr. and Xiaoxin Wu, eds., China and Christianity: Burdened Past, Hopeful Future (Armonk, N.Y., 2001).

An impressive amount of research on Taiwan's communal religious traditions has been published from the 1960s and 1970s to the present day. Some of the most important early scholarship was undertaken by Stephan Feuchtwang, David Jordan, Daniel Overmyer, and Wang Shih-ch'ing. Among the most representative works of that era are David K. Jordan's Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors: Folk Religion in a Taiwanese Village (Stanford, Calif., 1972), and P. Steven Sangren's History and Magical Power in a Chinese Community (Stanford, Calif., 1987). Important essays were also published in Arthur P. Wolf, ed., Religion and Ritual in Chinese Society (Stanford, Calif., 1974), and G. William Skinner, ed. The City in Late Imperial China (Stanford, Calif., 1977).

More recently, a new generation of researchers led by scholars like Chang Hsun, Lin Fu-shih, Lin Mei-rong, Mio Yuko, P. Steven Sangren, Donald Sutton, Robert Weller, and James Wilkerson has begun to shed additional light on Taiwan's communal religious traditions. Some of the most important publications in English include Allessandro Dell'Orto, Place and Spirit in Taiwan: Tudi Gong in the Stories, Strategies and Memories of Everyday Life (London and New York, 2002); Marc L. Moskowitz, The Haunting Fetus: Abortion, Sexuality, and the Spirit World in Taiwan (Honolulu, 2001); Meir Shahar, Crazy Ji: Chinese Religion and Popular Literature (Cambridge, Mass., 1998); Meir Shahar and Robert Weller, eds., Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China (Honolulu, 1996); and Donald Sutton, Steps of Perfection: Exorcistic Performers and Chinese Religion in Twentieth-Century Taiwan (Cambridge, Mass., 2003).

Paul R. Katz (2005)