The Birth of a Religious Group: An Ethnographic Study of Confucian Congregation

pictured left: Lizhu Fan, pictured right: Na Chen

Event Abstract

This is an ethnographic study of the Confucian Congregation, an emerging religious group in Fujian Province, southeast China. The presentation provides an account of the origin, the belief and rituals, the organization, and the development strategy of the Confucian Congregation. It started with one person providing supernatural healings and developed into an “organized religion” with hundreds of members in seven franchised branches. Furthermore, by taking advantage of the contemporary trend of the revival of Confucianism in China, the Congregation leaders were even able to make a seemingly impossible matter come true, that is, to achieve a legitimate status for their “superstitious” group.

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Fan Lizhu is a Professor of Sociology at Fudan University. Director of Globalization and Religious Studies at Fudan University. As a pioneer scholar on the study of sociologist of religion in China, she has engaged in historical and ethnographic studies of Chinese folk religious beliefs, sociological theories of religion, and the study of the trends of religious beliefs in modern Chinese society. She has published many academic publications both in Chinese and English. She has taught at many distinguished universities in the US and Europe. Now she focuses on the studies of Globalization and Religious Transformation.

Professor Na Chen is a research fellow at the Fudan Development Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai, China. He received his academic degrees from Peking University in China and the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University in the US. His research interests include sociology of religion, sociology of development and intercultural communication. He has published dozens of papers and book contributions, both in Chinese and in English. His recent research includes the study of “Confucian Congregation” in Southeast China, the revival of Confucianism and the reconstruction of Chinese identity, and the issue of “religion” and “superstition”.