|Holy Confucian Church|
|Orientation||Gongyang school (New Text Confucianism)|
|Scripture||Four Books and Five Classics|
|Origin||2009 (First local congregation), 2015 (National church) |
The Holy Confucian Church or Holy Church of Confucius ( K?ngshènghuì) or Holy Confucian Church of China ( Zh?nghuá K?ngshènghuì) is a body formed of many local Confucian churches or halls ( K?ngshèngtáng) in China. The grassroots movement was initiated by Zhou Beichen, a disciple of the Confucian philosopher Jiang Qing, who founded the first holy church in Shenzhen in 2009. The aim of the movement was to develop a network of local Confucian churches throughout the country, eventually unifying into a national body and becoming the state religion of China. The Holy Confucian Church has received support from the Confucian Academy of Hong Kong, although it has developed independently from the latter.
In 2010 the first holy church in Shenzhen was officially registered as a non-governmental non-profit (f?i q?yè ) organisation of public interest (g?ngyì ) affiliated with the Federation of Confucian Culture of Qufu City. The Holy Church maintains close relations with local government officials and high-ranking dignitaries of the State Administration for Religious Affairs attend its ceremonies. The national and international body, the Holy Confucian Church of China, was finally established in late 2015.
Zhou Beichen was born in the province of Guizhou in 1965. He studies at the Guizhou University and experienced with work in journalism, publishing and teaching. In the 1980s he was interested in Western philosophy, while in the 1990s he studied the works of many contemporary Neo-Confucian circles.
Later, Zhou Beichen approached to Jiang Qing's work on the Gongyang () school of New Text Confucianism, especially the idea of political Confucianism or the "outside kingship" (). In 1996 he met Jiang Qing in person and they founded together the Yangming Academy in Guizhou. Between that year and 2003 he settled down in Shenzhen, living with business activity and projecting the Confucian holy halls (Kongshengtang) movement which officially started in 2009.
The Confucian holy halls multiplied over the following years and on 1 November 2015 many Confucian scholars including Jiang Qing, Kang Xiaoguang, Zhang Xianglong and Sheng Hong gathered in Shenzhen for the formal establishment of a national and international Holy Confucian Church which would encompass all local Confucian congregations and civil organisations. Jiang Qing was appointed as the spiritual leader of the church.
Some see the Holy Confucian Church as a continuation of the Confucian Church that was founded in 1912 by Kang Youwei, a Confucian reformer, but which was later disbanded because of hostile political climate. The contemporary Holy Confucian Church aims to foster folk Confucian and traditional religion in a period of deep crisis of the Chinese civilisation, and represent a "body" for the "soul" of the Chinese, or a new embodiment of the "wandering soul" of Confucianism deprived of its social structure after the empire fell apart. The church has found some opposition, even within the Confucian community, by people who see it as an imitation of Christianity and fear a departure from the teachings of Confucianism.
Besides the nourishment of Chinese culture, the Holy Church's constitution also mentions the aim of maintaining the "religious ecology" (? z?ngjiào sh?ngtài) of Chinese society through the absorption and reinterpretation of alien religions and heterodox cults into Confucianism.
The Holy Confucian Church is a highly structured institution both in its doctrine of the faith and in its organisation. The reference to its "holiness" in its name means that the church reflects the sacred order of nature in holidays, ancestral ties and the environment.
Its local congregations ( K?ngshèngtáng) are at the same times schools and temples (? xué miào hé y?) for the education of the individuals and the moral reconstitution of society, the filial way (? xiàocí zh? dào) and spiritual home (? j?ngshén ji?yuán) of Chinese life. Its worship halls are called dàoch?ng ( "place of the way"), a term for wide worship halls.
In order to develop independently from the support of sponsors as it was the case in the first months after its creation, in 2010 the Holy Confucian Church of Shenzhen adopted a "sustainable development model", also termed the "Shenzhen model" by the media. The policy implies the self-support of the Church through wedding and funeral rites, and through schools of "Confucian corporate culture" for business companies. The goal of the church is to provide non-profit services, and it offers education, rituals and other activities which are free of charge.
The nationwide Holy Confucian Church created in 2015 plans to replicate the Shenzhen model all over China and abroad and form missionary institutes and community-oriented lecture circuits, and Confucian schools. These objectives will be financed by integrated social donations and funding members, contributions from local government for public services at Temples of Confucius, its industrial platform, and other resources.