Surabi R, Becky P, Giselle P, Sanjuktha P.

Origins of the Religion

Origin of the Religion

  • Originated from China
  • The founder was Confucius

Basic Religious Beliefs

  • Their belief in this religion was just educate people in their religion. To go into more detail they believed in quite a lot, but the main ones are the problems with evil surrounding them, purpose of existence and afterlife.
    - Evil: they believe that evil is inevitable in human life. They believe that a mistake is never a “sin”, but just another chance to learn and do better next time.
    - Purpose of existence: they believe that the purpose of existence is to reach one's highest ability as a human being. Through a process of self-cultivation, they say that one may eventually become a "perfected person."
    - Afterlife: They believed that instead of worrying what you will become or get punishments after your death, you should be doing good things and benefiting your customs while you are still living.

Classification of Religion

  • Confucianism is an ethnic religion because of its strong rooting in traditional values of special importance to Chinese people. Since Confucianism in not a main religion, it is also not considered as a Polytheistic or Monotheistic

Branches or Divisions of Confucianism

  • There aren’t really any branches but, they are these which fall under this religion such as, Korean-Confucianism and Neo(new)-Confucianism.

Geographic Distribution

How Confucianism Diffused

  • Confucius, a learned teacher, developed ideas about society, education, and government.
    • Was not the founder of Confucianism in the same way Buddha founded Buddhism - he considered himself as a transmitter who tried to revive the meaning of the past through traditions, rituals, and social values
  • Did not spread through conquest or crusade
    • Most people converted voluntarily
  • Became prominent in China when it was adopted by the Han dynasty
  • China’s influence on Korea, Japan, and other nearby country’s political, economical, and social development caused them to adapt Confucianism

Holy Places

  • Home altar and the burial ground of their ancestors - closer to Heaven by honoring ancestors
  • Temples in China, Korea, and Taiwan

Where it is practiced today

Mostly in China, with a small population in Korea

Number of Followers

5-6 million

Map Illustrating Distribution of Followers

The blue is listed as Confucianism-Taoism-Buddhism because many Confucians are also Taoists or Buddhists and many ideas between the three have mingled over time.

Unique Features

Key Figures and Important People


  • Born in 551 BC in Lu
  • Transmitted ideas that founded the basis of Confucianism.
  • Started teaching in his 30s and had a reputation for being very brilliant.
  • He developed concepts about education, society, and government, but no one in his provincial state wanted to listen to him (especially the king and his inner circle), so he moved elsewhere in his 50s.

Watch a biography on Confucius

Dong Zhongshu

  • A scholar and philosopher who lived in the Han Dynasty of China.
  • He established Confucianism as the state cult of China.
  • Confucianism actually stayed China’s state cult for another 2,000 years
  • He caused Confucianism as the political philosophy.
  • Dong Zhongshu established Confucianism after Confucius’ death, and helped keep Confucianism in wide use.


  • Defended Confucianism against other influential movements of thought at the time
  • Lived during the 4th century (Han dynasty)
  • Wrote the Holy Mencius, which was basically his thoughts on the teachings of Confucius
  • Was a respected philosopher who was a staunch believer of Confucianism; he even traveled to different states to attempt to convert other kings into followers of Confucius principles

Holy Texts

Religious Symbols

Place of Worship

  • There are few public places for worship services because Confucianism is not really a religion, it’s a belief system. However, there are a few temples in China, Korea, and Taiwan.

  • For a Confucian, their home altar or the village that contains the burial tomb of their ancestors are very sacred sites.

Impact on social and family structures

  • Followers of Confucianism live their lives accordingly to The 5 Virtues
  • Confucius’s Social Philosophy was mainly centered around love and compassion for others.
  • Depreciating yourself was very important. One was to be humble and direct attention away from himself. (Lanyu 1.3 from Book X of the Analects)

Impact on cultural beliefs and expectations

  • Women are at the bottom of the hierarchy and are expected to have exemplary behavior and obedience.
  • Men can have multiple wives but women are only aloud to see men that are their husbands, close relatives, or Masters.
  • Ancestor worship is one of the most important rituals a Confucian performs on a daily basis.
  • Consulting the Yijing ( a divination “manual” or tool used to predict future events) has become important for self ritual.

Essential Question

How does the ethnic religion of Confucianism affect social customs?