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Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of religious freedom, a right enshrined and protected through its constitutional document, the Basic Law. The majority of Hong Kong's population, as in Mainland China, practice a folk version of Buddhism. This majority includes approximately six million people, from a total population of less than seven million, or close to 90% (See Buddhism by country). A sizable Christian community of around 500,000 exists, forming about 7% of the total population; it is roughly equally divided between Catholics and Protestants. There are also around 200,000 followers each of authentic Buddhism and Taoism. Apart from the major religions, there are also a significant number of followers of other religions, including an estimated 23,000 Mormons, 3,000 Jews and a number of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahá'ís. Apart from offering religious instructions, many major religious bodies have established schools and provided social welfare facilities.


Hong Kong's religious beliefs are tied to the region's early role as a fishing community. Tin Hau, the protector of seafarers, has been honoured with several temples throughout Hong Kong for at least 300 years. Hung Shing, another protector of seafarers, has also been honoured for centuries. Hong Kong residents, especially elder generations, visit Taoist or Buddhist temples to appease the deities and, usually, to request compassion, good health or good fortune. Gifts of food, and in particular fruit, are presented, and incense and paper offerings are burnt in respect.


With the transfer of Hong Kong to the PRC, there were significant concerns over religious freedom in Hong Kong. So far, this has proved mostly unfounded. Despite the banning of the Falun Gong movement by Beijing in 1999, adherents are still free to practice in Hong Kong. Similarly, the Catholic Church freely appoints its own bishops in Hong Kong, unlike on mainland China where the only approved 'Catholic' institution is the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association where bishops and priests are appointed by Beijing (though there is also an unofficial and illegal part of the Catholic church that maintains contact with the Vatican). A significant issue in the normalisation of ties between the PRC and the Vatican is Beijing's insistence that the Vatican drops its diplomatic ties with the ROC.


Hong Kong is the only place in China where missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) can serve. The Church has a temple in Hong Kong which was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley on May 26–27, 1996. Church members consider Hinkley, who is also President of the church, to be a prophet of God.




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