As regards the religion, Shenyang is home to five religions, namely Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity, along with seven municipal patriotic religious groups, 289 legally-registered religious activity places, and two temporary activity places for Foreign Christians. The city has about 400,000 religious believers and 483 religious staff.
Among all the five religions in Shenyang, Buddhism is the one enjoying a long history and a great influence.
It was firstly introduced into Liaodong (eastern Liaoning) in the Wei and Jin Dynasties, and spread widely during the Tang Dynasty. Shenyang is home to not a few well-known Buddhist temples, such as the Ancient Temple of Changan which is famous for the saying “the Temple of Changan has been existing longer than the city of Shenyang”, and the Ci’en Temple which is known as one of the “Four Buddhist Temples” of Northeastern China, as well as the Shisheng Temple which was a royal temple dating back to Qing Dynasty. In the meantime, Ci’en Temple and Banruo Temple are approved by the State Council as the only two national key temples in Liaoning province. There also appeared in Shenyang several monks and nuns with national reputation, such as Buzhen and Shibo. According to a survey conducted in 1950, Shenyang had 63 Buddhist temples and 304 monks and nuns then. During the Great Cultural Revolution, a great number of Buddhist venues in Shenyang were forcibly occupied and destroyed, bringing all religious activities to a halt. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, parts of the religious venues were rebuilt with religious activities resumed.
So far, Shenyang has one patriotic Buddhist group, namely Buddhist Association of Shenyang, 46 temples and permanent venues, about 150,000 believers and 200 Buddhist clergies.
It was in the Tang Dynasty that Taoism was introduced into Liaoning Province. Since then, Shenyang has become the center of Taoist activities in Northeastern China. After the establishment of the Chenghuang Temple by one Taoist named Yunshan in 1352, Taoism began to spread in Shenyang with Taoist temples built one after another. There are Doumu Palace of the Ming Dynasty and Taiqing Palace (also called the Three Teachings Temple) of the Qing Dynasty with the latter as one of the two key Taoist architectures in Liaoning Province. Shenyang is also the hometown of many prestigious Taoist priests, including YUE Zongdai, the first chairman of Chinese Taoist Association. A survey in 1950 showed that Shenyang had 28 Taoist structures and 101 Quanzhen Taoists. In the period of the Great Cultural Revolution, most Taoist activity places in Shenyang were forcibly occupied and destroyed, calling a halt to all religious activities. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee, Taiqing Palace was the first to be restored with religious activities returned to normal. And Pengying Palace, China’s largest Taoist architecture, has been open to the public since its completion in 1997.
Nowadays, Shenyang has one patriotic Taoist group, namely Taoist Association of Shenyang, 10 temples and permanent venues, 48 Taoist clergies and 20,000 believers.