Religion in Hong Kong

Religion in Hong Kong

Religious freedom is a large part of the Hong Kong culture. In fact, it is one of the fundamental rights that is enjoyed by all of the residents of this territory which is protected by legislation such as Basic Law. As a result, those residing in Hong Kong belong to a large variety of religions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, and Judaism. In fact, about 43% of Hong Kong's population practices some form of religion. All religions provide some kind of religious instruction, and many religious groups have their own schools and provide social welfare of some kind.

Most of the people in Hong Kong are Buddhists and/or Taoists. There are 700,000 people practising this eastern philosophy, and there are 600 temples in the region. Some of these temples are quite historic and can be traced to over 700 years ago, while some or more modern. Famous temples in the area include Wong Tai Sin Temple, Chi Lin Nunnery, and the Po Lin Monastery. Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, who is a Taoist deity. Chi Lin Nunnery at Diamond Hill is a temple that is in the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty. Lantau Island's Po Lin Monastery is famous for its bronze statue of the Tian Tan Buddha which is a popular tourist attraction which is also linked to a cable car and park complex called Ngong Ping 360 which has a Buddhist theme.

As there are many Buddhists in Hong Kong, many temples and associations are involved with education and social welfare. For example, the Buddhist's Association of Hong Kong operates primary schools, secondary schools, youth centres, and elderly homes. The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong both have Buddhist academic studies and research centres.

Confucianism is a popular philosophical belief system which dates back to around 500 BC. This sage's teachings still lives on today as it is ingrained into social, economic, and political systems. There is a festival falling on Confucius' birthday, and there are many Confucius schools around Hong Kong.

There are 563,000 Christians in Hong Kong. There are 243,000 Roman Catholics in Hong Kong, and the Church has been established since 1841 in the region. There are many church services in Cantonese, English, and Tagalog. Like most countries around the world, there are Catholic schools, kindergartens, hospitals, clinics, social centres, hostels, aged care homes, rehabilitation service centres, and much more offered by Hong Kong's Roman Catholic diocese. In fact, 95% of those who have benefited from the Roman Catholic Churches social welfare services are not Catholics at all.

The Protestant community also dates back to 1841. There are 323,000 Protestants which consists of 50 denominations. Major denominations in Hong Kong include Anglicans, Adventists, Baptists, Methodist, Lutherans, Pentecostal, Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Salvation Army, and the Church of Christ in China. Much of their emphasis is on youth work, and as a result a proportion of younger people are members. Similarly, there are schools, seminaries, publishing houses, hospitals, clinics, youth centres, children's homes, aged care homes and more offered just like almost anywhere else in the world.

There are also some Orthodox Christians who live in Hong Kong, even though services with a priest are rare. There is a small delegation that represents the St. Luke Orthodox Community, and the Orthodox Cathedral is at Stanley Fort.

There are 90,000 Muslims, and is one of the fastest growing communities in Hong Kong with 4 mosques and an Islamic Centre. These mosques are used for daily prayers, and the oldest of these is the Shelly Street Masjid which was built in the 1840s. Many of these Muslims are from India, Pakistan, as well as Indonesian migrant domestic workers who are served by educational assistance, medical care, financial aid, and a kindergarten.

There are 40,000 Hindus and 8,000 Sikhs. There is a Gurdwara in Wan Chai which offers short-term accommodation and free meals for overseas visitors of any faith. Many of these people came from Northern India as part of the British Armed Forces during the 19th century.

The Jewish Community in Hong Kong numbers 4,000. Established in the area since the 1840s, there are 3 main congregations which include Orthodox and Reformed Judaism. Both are actually located in the same complex on Robinson Road, Hong Kong Island. There is also a daily service at the shul at the Mandarin Oriental. A Jewish Community Centre serves all 3 congregations, such as supervised kosher dining, as well as recreational and cultural facilities. There is also a specialist Jewish library at the centre.