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China: Controversy Emerges When Church Expands into Confucius’ Hometown

  • Veronica Neffinger

    Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the…

  • Updated Jan 28, 2016

Ancient Chinese Confucianism is being confronted by Christianity as conflict arises over a Christian church looking to expand in a region that is known as Confucius’ hometown. reports that Confucius’ hometown of Qufu in eastern China’s Shandong province has long been a bastion of ancient Chinese spirituality. Though China’s Communist party has tried to eradicate religion in the past, Confucianism is seeing a rebirth in China, just as many Christians are being persecuted and their churches demolished.

The presence of a Christian church less than two miles from Qufu’s main Confucian temple is currently sparking debate.

One prominent Confucian scholar, Zeng Zhenyu, believes that a Christian church has no place so close to the sacred spot of Confucius’ hometown.

“Qufu in China is like Jerusalem and Mecca,” Zeng, a professor at Shandong University’s Advanced Institute for Confucian Studies, told TIME. “It’s the Chinese people’s spiritual home.”

You can build churches in other places,” he continued. “But you can’t build them in Qufu, an iconic and holy spiritual place for the Chinese people.” 

Others, however, such as neo-Confucian Chen Ming, believe that Confucian philosophy welcomes all with peace.

“It’s inappropriate to escalate the dispute into a conflict between Confucianism and Christianity, like a clash of civilizations,” he told TIME. 

Publication date: January 28, 2016