Religious chic


Real-estate tycoon Pan Shiyi and his wife Zhang Xin are among China's most famous followers, according to media reports.

"I like Bahá'í because it's a very tolerant religion and easy for me to understand and follow," said Deng Sheng, who converted more than 10 years ago.

"The essential message of the Bahá'í faith is unity. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, taught that there is only one deity and one human race and that all the world's religions represent stages in the revelation of God's will and purpose for humanity.

"The time has arrived for the uniting of all peoples into a peaceful and integrated global society."

For this reason, Bahá'í is translated as datong jiao ("the religion of great unity") in Chinese.

{josquote}"Theoretically it should have registered for group activities, but as our country applies a policy of free religion, as long as those activities don't break the law, the government will let them be."{/josquote}

New religions work in two directions, wrote Ye Xiaowen, a former director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

One is moving upwards to stand alongside traditional and mainstream religions, while the other is going down towards mysterious anti-government cults.

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