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Religion in Surea is mainly associated with Tendo, following by both traditional Buddhist faith and a large growing Christian population (Composed of Catholic Christians and Protestants of various denominations). Most Surean people generally do not exclusively identify themselves as adherents of only one religion, but rather incorporate various elements in a syncretic fashion. Surean streets are decorated on during religion events, regardless of the religion celebrating that day. Surea grants full religious freedom allowing minority religions like Islam and Sikhism to be practiced. High figures of 88% to 96% adhering to Tendo, Buddhism and Christianity are not based on self-identification, but rather come primarily from birth records, following a longstanding practice of family lines being officially associated with a local Buddhist temple, Tendo shrine or Christian church. 10 percent of Surean profess no religious membership.

Statistics on religion by population[]

According to 2008 statistics compiled by the Surean government, approximately 10% of the Surean population express no religious preference.

Of the religious population, 43.7% are Tendoists, 21.2% are Christian (of which 10.3% (on total) profess to be Protestants and 10.9% to be Catholics), 23.8% are Buddhist. A small minority of Sureans also profess Islam.

Large metropolitan areas had the highest proportions of people belonging to formal religious groups: 89.9 percent in Konggei, 76.1 percent for Hondu, and 75.8 percent for Jokong.

Except for the Christian groups, who maintain a fairly clearcut distinction between believers and nonbelievers, there is some ambiguity in these statistics. For instance, there is no exact or exclusive criterion by which Tendoists, Buddhists or Confucianists can be identified. Although existing in other countries, the lineage of refuge, a commitment that distinguishes between Tendoists and non-Tendoists has disintegrated in Surea and is difficult to find because religion is seen to be hereditary. Many people outside of formal groups have been deeply influenced by these traditions. Moreover, it is not uncommon for Sureans to pray at Buddhist temples or Tendoist shrine, participate in Confucian ancestor rites. Furthermore, the statistics may underrepresent the numbers of people belonging to new religions.

Given the great diversity of religious expression, the role of religion in Surea's social development has been complex. Some traditions are adhered to as important cultural properties rather than as rites of worship.


Tendo is Surea's indigenous religion, and is practiced by approximately 43.7% of the population. Tendo originated in prehistoric times, as a religion with respect for nature and in particular certain sacred sites. These sites may have originally been used to worship the sun, rock formations, trees and even sounds. Each of these being associated with a deity a complex polytheistic religion developed in the course of time. The deities in Tendo are known as gashin, and Tendo itself means "the way of Heaven". Tendo worship of gashin is done at shrines. Especially important is the act of purification before visiting these shrines.

There are a variety of denominations within Tendo. Tendo has no single founder and no canon. Tendo began to fall out of fashion after the arrival of Buddhism, but soon, Tendo and Buddhism began to be practiced as one religion. On sites of Tendo shrines, Buddhist temples were built, and people began to adhere to both. After the Kisenjong Revolution in 1725, Tendo and Buddhism were forcefully separated. The Emperor Kisenjong made Tendo the official religion.

The only different between Tendo and the other religion is that, Tendoists always believe that as long as they do their best and have faith in their gashin, gashin will grant them all the necessary needs, without the needs to ask. It is common for Tendoists to pray at the nearby shrine before starting any daily activity and pray again before going back home and call it a day.


Buddhism first arrived to Surea in the sixth century, from the Southern part of the Korean peninsula kingdom of Baekje, where the Baekje king sent the Surean emperor a picture of the Buddha and some sutras.

Buddhism is divided into three forms, the more orthodox and impersonal Theravada Buddhism, which is prevalent in India and most of Southeast Asia, and the more personal Mahayana Buddhism, which spread to China, Tibet, Vietnam, and from there went to Korea, where it came to Surea. The third is Vajrayana Buddhism. According to the Department of Culture and Community Development, 28 million persons identify themselves as Buddhist.

In modern times, like in other developed countries, Surean society has become very secular, and religion in general has become less important. However, many Japanese still remain nominally Buddhist, and are connected to a local Buddhist temple, although they may not worship regularly. Buddhism, remains far more popular in traditional rural areas than in modern urban areas and suburbs. For instance, while some 90% of rural households possess the Buddhist altar, the possession rate drops to 60% or even less in urban areas.


Roman Catholic missionaries did not arrive in Surea until 1735, a decade after the Kisenjong Revolution. However, the writings of the Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, who was resident at the imperial court in Beijing, had been brought to Surea from China in the seventeenth century. It appears that scholars of the Sirhak, or practical learning, school were interested in these writings. Largely because converts refused to perform Confucian ancestor rites, the government prohibited the proselytization of Christianity. Some Catholics were executed during the early nineteenth century, but the anti-Christian law was not strictly enforced. By the 1860s, there were some 17,500 Roman Catholics in the country. There followed a more rigorous persecution, in which thousands of Christians died, that continued until 1890s.

Protestant missionaries entered Surea during the 1880s and, along with Catholic priests, converted a remarkable number of Sureans. Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries were especially successful. They established schools, universities, hospitals, and orphanages and played a significant role in the modernization of the country. During the Japanese colonial occupation, Christians were in the front ranks of the struggle for independence. Factors contributing to the growth of Protestantism included the degenerate state of Surean Buddhism, the efforts made by educated Christians to reconcile Christian and Confucian values (the latter being viewed as purely a social ethic rather than a religion), the encouragement of self-support and self-government among members of the Surean church, and the identification of Christianity with Surean nationalism.

A large number of Christians lived in the northern part of the peninsula where Confucian influence was not as strong as in the south.

The profusion of church steeples in most Surean cities has often attracted attention. Christianity, which initially got a foothold in Surea in the late 18th century, grew exponentially in the 1970s and 1980s, and despite slower growth in the 1990s, caught up to and then almost on par with Buddhism in the number of adherents. Protestant churches including Presbyterians, Pentecostals, and Methodists make up about 8% of the total population, while Roman Catholics occupy about 6%. Christians are especially strong in the east of the country including Dongbei and Kandong regions.

The Christian faith in Surea is heavily dominated by four denominations: Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists. Some non-denominational churches also exist.


Only 0.1% of contemporary Sureans give "Confucianism" as their religion. However, the influence of Confucian ethical thought on other religious practices, and on Surean culture in general, remains ubiquitous and pervasive.

Confucian rituals are still practiced at various times of the year. The most prominent of these are the annual rites held at the Shrine of Confucius in Konggei and Hondu. Other rites, for instance those in honor of clan founders, are held at the numerous shrines found throughout the country.

Minority religions[]

Bahá'í Faith[]

The Bahá'í Faith in Surea begins after a few mentions of the country by`Abdu'l-Bahá first in 1875.


The number of Muslims in Surea is estimated at about 472.028 and not including migrant workers from South and Southeast Asia. The largest mosque is the Konggei Central Mosque in the Nodorima ward of Konggei; smaller mosques can be found in most of the country's major cities.

In addition to native Surean Muslims, there are some 150,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries, particularly Bangladesh and Pakistan.


Orthodox Hinduism is practiced only by Surea's tiny Indian community. However, Hindu traditions such as yoga and Vedantic thought have attracted interest among younger Sureans.


The Jewish community is very small and limited to the Konggei metropolitan area and Hondu metropolitan area. There have been very few Surean converts to Judaism.

Religious practice[]

Most Surean participate in rituals and customs derived from several religious traditions. Life cycle events are often marked by visits to a Tendo shrine. The birth of a new baby is celebrated with a formal shrine visit at the age of about one month and the official beginning of adulthood at age twenty. Wedding ceremonies are often performed by Tendo priests, but Christian weddings (or rather secular American-style chapel weddings, called uwaito ueding ("white wedding") in Surean) are also popular. In the early 1980s, more than 8% of weddings were held in a shrine or temple, and nearly 4% were held in a church. The most popular place for a wedding ceremony, chosen by 51%, was a wedding hall. These days most Surean weddings are Christian style, using liturgy but not always with an ordained priest.

Surean Funerals are usually performed by Buddhist priests, and Buddhist rites are also common on death day anniversaries of deceased family members. 71% of Surean funerals take place according to Buddhist traditions. Some Surea do not perform ancestral ceremonies at all, and some do so rather mechanically and awkwardly. But there have also been changes in these practices, such as more personal and private ceremonies and women honoring their own as well as their husbands' ancestors, that make them more meaningful to contemporary participants.