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Religion Library: Confucianism

Rites and Ceremonies

Written by: Jeffrey Richey

Contemporary Confucian family gathering : Public DomainThe death of Mao relaxed, but did not end, government censure of ancestor worship. The Eleventh Party Congress of 1979 proclaimed that, although "certain long-standing activities such as ancestor worship" were "a kind of superstition," henceforth they would not be proscribed "as long as they do not affect collective political and economic activities," and that the government placed its faith in "patient persuasion and lasting education in science, culture, and atheism" to root out such practices eventually. Since the 1980s, both public and private ancestor worship have become more prominent in mainland China, and these practices have remained strong in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as in overseas Chinese communities. Traditional Confucian ancestor worship continues unabated in South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Whether in mainland China, elsewhere in East Asia, or in the global East Asian diaspora, ancestor worship has never ceased to be practiced.


Study Questions:
    1.    What is the most important Confucian ritual practice?
    2.    How do Confucians regard their ancestors?
    3.    Why is filial piety so important to Confucians?


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