Taiwan is a highly tolerant society and is greatly diversified in terms of religious faith. Like China, Taiwan has 3 major religions- Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Other religious practices include Christianity, Mormonism, the Unification Church, Islam, and Hinduism, as well as native sects such as Yiguandao.
Most of the island's traditional places of worship combine all three of the major religious traditions. The Japanese occupation of the island saw widespread persecution of Taoism- seen as the embodiment of Chinese culture- which meant that Taoists had to secretly worship in Buddhist temples, leading to the creation of Taiwan's uniquely united yet divergent faith.
Taoism is China's main native religion, and many of its gods are deified persons and ancestors who made important contributions to society. The religion has its roots in the philosophical teaching of Laotze- a great thinker of the 6th Century BC.
The central principle of Taoist thought is the 'Tao' or the 'Way' a highly abstract notion of the way in which the world works. Taoists believe very strongly in the value of patience and tolerance and the virtue of inaction over action. In its simplest form, the belief of the Tao is summed up in the concept that water is capable of wearing down the hardest stone. over time.
One of the world's oldest religions, Buddhism came to China from India, as it spread far and wide throughout Asia.
The central belief of Buddhist teachings is the overcoming of human desire- the chief cause of the universal suffering that dominates all of life. By following a "path" of belief and principles the Buddhist can aim to achieve a higher plane of existence known as Nirvana.
Chinese Buddhism varies considerably from the pure Indian version with a number of Chinese sects combining both Buddhist and Taoist beliefs- the best known of this is called Chan- or by its Japanese name- Zen.
Although not strictly a religion, the teachings of the great Chinese Philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC) have become an important part of faith and personal beliefs throughout Asia- Taiwan included.
Confucius taught the worship of ancestors and the respect of elders and nobility, but he also believed strongly in a society based on merit and skills rather than privilege and inherited titles.
He is widely regarded as the father of civil society and social order, and his teachings and philosophy are highly valued in modern Chinese societies.