The Folk Belief, Charitable Undertakings and Belief Economy of Chaoshan Charitable Temples: The Triple-Agent Model of Shantou XY Charitable Temple’s Operation as an Example

In: The China Nonprofit Review

Abstract

The article proposes the triple-agent model of Chaoshan charitable temples’ operation, which is characterized by the interactive relationship between charitable undertakings and folk belief and belief economy. First, folk belief including the belief in Master Dafeng and related religious concepts can inspire believers’ charity motives and urge them to participate in charitable undertakings. The charity motives of believers are mostly self-interested or altruistic self-interested. Second, charitable undertakings, in turn, can “euphemize” and “legitimate” folk belief. XY Charitable Temple highlights to the outside world its charitable undertakings and the charitable meaning of its folk belief to euphemize the religious meaning of its folk belief and thus to maintain its political legitimacy. Finally, the development of belief economy provides operating funds for charitable undertakings. Belief economy is composed of charitable temple economy, deity economy and folklore economy, and they all have important folk belief elements. In addition, the income from folklore service features XY Charitable Temple’s revenue, from which the strategy of “religious governance” of charitable temples’ operation can be observed.

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