Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (Taiwan) After the Chinese Revolution, the leadership of the defeated Chinese Nationalist regime and many of their supporters retired to the island of Taiwan. In what was seen as a continuing situation of war with the new People’s Republic of China, martial law was declared and a rather authoritarian rule ensued. Religion was somewhat suppressed and, where allowed to exist, heavily
regulated. The government encouraged the founding of the Buddhist Association of the Republic of China (BAORC), which was subsequently given the authority to supervise all
Buddhist activities in Taiwan. Among the many tasks adopted by the association was the reestablishment of the trappings of Chinese Buddhism (primarily in its Pure Land form) in Taiwan. That a number of qualified Buddhist clergy immigrated in the massive migration of Chinese to the island
in the early 1950s allowed a Buddhist order to be recreated, and in 1953, the first ceremonies for the ordination of Buddhist priests were held. The BAORC had a virtual monopoly on Taiwanese Buddhism through the 1980s, as until 1987, it was illegal for any other Buddhist institution to be
established outside BAORC’s authority. However, in the 1960s, at first under BAORC’s umbrella and, since 1987, increasingly independently of it, a spectrum of new organizations have appeared and now claim the allegiance of the majority of the the Taiwanese Buddhist community, the most prominent of them
FOGUANGSHAN, the BUDDHIST COMPASSION RELIEF TZU CHI ASSOCIATION, DHARMA DRUM MOUNTAIN, the AMITABHA BUDDHIST SOCIETIES, and
the TRUE BUDDHA SCHOOL. In addition, the CHAN (ZEN) tradition in Taiwan has been developed by Master Weichueh (Wei Jue),
who founded Chung Tai Chan Monastery and Chung Tai Buddhist Institute.
The BAORC remains the largest Buddhist organization in Taiwan, operating as both the nationally established religion and an ecumenical group drawing support from a number of very different Buddhist associations The BAORC is headquartered in Taipei.
In 2001, the BAORC sponsored the International Conference on Religious Cooperation, a gathering of leaders from some 17 religious traditions from 29 countries.
The Ching Hsin, president of the BAROC, chaired the gathering.
Further reading: Charles Brewer Jones, Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 1660–1990 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999).