Christianity in Mongolia

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Christianity in Mongolia is a minority religion. As of 2005, the United States Department of State reports that approximately 24,000 Christians live in Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar, which is around 2.5 percent of the entire registered population of the city. [1]

Mongolia Landlocked country in East Asia

Mongolia is a landlocked country in East Asia. Its area is roughly equivalent with the historical territory of Outer Mongolia, and that term is sometimes used to refer to the current state. It is sandwiched between Russia to the north and China to the south, where it neighbours the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, although only 37 kilometres (23 mi) separates them.

United States Department of State United States federal executive department responsible for foreign affairs

The United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department, its duties include advising the U.S. President, administering the nation's diplomatic missions, negotiating treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and representing the U.S. at the United Nations.

Ulaanbaatar Municipality in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, formerly anglicised as Ulan Bator, is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. The city is not part of any aimag (province), and its population as of 2014 was over 1.3 million, almost half of the country's total population. Located in north central Mongolia, the municipality lies at an elevation of about 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) in a valley on the Tuul River. It is the country's cultural, industrial and financial heart, the centre of Mongolia's road network and connected by rail to both the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia and the Chinese railway system.

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Most Christians in Mongolia became Christian after the end of Mongolia's communist regime in 1990. According to the Christian missionary group Barnabas Fund, the number of Christians grew from just four in 1989 to around 40,000 as of 2008. [2]

Mongolian Peoples Republic 1924–1992 republic in Northeastern Asia

The Mongolian People's Republic was a unitary sovereign socialist state which existed between 1924 and 1992, coterminous with the present-day country of Mongolia in East Asia. It was ruled by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party and maintained close links with the Soviet Union throughout its history. Geographically, it was bordered by China to its south and the Soviet Union to its north. Until 1944, it also bordered the Tuvan People's Republic, another Soviet satellite state recognized only by Mongolia and the Soviet Union.

The Barnabas Fund is an international, interdenominational Christian aid agency based in Coventry, in the West Midlands of England that supports Christians who face discrimination or persecution as a consequence of their faith. It was established in 1993 and channels aid to projects run by national Christians in more than 50 countries. It also campaigns in particular for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law.

Statistics

According to the 2010 National Census there were 41,117 Christians (age of 15 and older) or 2.1% of total population. [3]

Nestorianism

Nestorianism was the first form of Christianity to be proselytized among the Mongols, in the 7th century, [4] and several Mongols, at least a dozen, became primarily Christian. During the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Great Khans, though mostly Shamanists and Buddhist, were religiously tolerant towards the Nestorian Christians, Muslims, and Manichaeans. [5] Many of the khans had Nestorian Christian wives from the Kerait clan, who were extremely influential in the Mongol court. During the rule of Möngke Khan, Christianity was the primary religious influence. After the breakup of the Mongol Empire in the 14th century, Nestorian Christianity nearly disappeared from the region. [6]

Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures of Jesus Christ were joined by will rather than nature. This Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, who was influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch.

Mongol Empire former country in Asia and Europe

The Mongol Empire existed during the 13th and 14th centuries; it became the largest contiguous land empire in history. Originating in Mongolia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia; eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and the Iranian Plateau; and westwards as far as the Levant and the Carpathian Mountains.

Muslims Adherents of Islam

Muslims are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet and messenger Muhammad. The majority of Muslims also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (sunnah) as recorded in traditional accounts (hadith). "Muslim" is an Arabic word meaning "submitter". The largest denomination of Islam are Sunni Muslims who constitute 85-90% of the total Muslim population, followed by the Shia who make up most of remaining Muslims.

There are only very few archeological traces of the prospering of Nestorianism among the Mongols. [7] In Inner Mongolia, several Nestorian gravestones have been recorded in the past, but none now remain in situ. [8]

Inner Mongolia Autonomous region

Inner Mongolia or Nei Mongol, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region or Nei Mongol Autonomous Region (NMAR), is a Mongolic autonomous region in Northern China. Its border includes most of the length of China's border with Mongolia. The rest of the Sino–Mongolian border coincides with part of the international border of the Xinjiang autonomous region and the entirety of the international border of Gansu province and a small section of China's border with Russia. Its capital is Hohhot; other major cities include Baotou, Chifeng, and Ordos.

Orthodoxy

Holy Trinity Church, Ulaanbaatar Holy Ttinity Church in Ulan Bator.jpg
Holy Trinity Church, Ulaanbaatar

The Orthodox Churches and their monks became victims to the Mongol invasion of Eastern Europe in the early 13th century. However, Jarlig or charter of immunity, also contributed to the strengthening of the Church. With the reign of Möngke-Temür, a jarlig was issued to Metropolitan Kirill for the Orthodox Church in 1267. While the church had been under the de facto protection of the Mongols ten years earlier (from the 1257 census conducted under Khan Berke), this jarlig formally decreed protection for the Orthodox Church. More importantly, it officially exempted the church from any form of taxation by Mongol or Russian authorities and permitted clergymen to remain unregistered during censuses and clergy were furthermore not liable for forced labor or military service. For the first time, the Orthodox church would become less dependent on princely powers than in any other period of Russian history. [9]

Jarlig

Jarlig is a term used in the Russian historiography for khan "formal diplomas" or decrees of the Mongol Empire. It was one of three types of non-fundamental law pronouncements that had the effect of a regulation or ordinance, the other two being debter and billing. The jarliq provide important information about the running of the Mongol Empire.

Berke Khan was a Mongolian military commander and ruler of the Golden Horde who effectively consolidated the power of the Blue Horde and White Horde from 1257 to 1266. He succeeded his brother Batu Khan of the Blue Horde (West) and was responsible for the first official establishment of Islam in a khanate of the Mongol Empire. He allied with the Egyptian Mamluks against another Mongol khanate based in Persia, the Ilkhanate. Berke supported Ariq Böke in the Toluid Civil War, but did not intervene militarily in the war due to the fact of he also occupied in his own war.

From 1771 to 1845 at least eight missions of the Russian Orthodox Church visited Mongolia. The first Orthodox church on Mongolian territory, Holy Trinity Church was established in the Khalkha capital city Urga in 1872, [10] and newly rebuilt there in 2007. [11]

Roman Catholicism

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral UlaanBaatarCathedral.jpg
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Historically, much of Europe had been ruled by Turkish and Mongolian tribes both of which originated in Mongolia. The Eastern Roman Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century. Western Catholicism was first introduced in the Middle Ages, primarily through Franciscan and Dominican missionaries, sent to the Mongol court in Karakorum and also via medieval Roman Catholic missions in China. Missionaries to China were successful during the Mongol-created Yuan Dynasty in China in the late 13th/early 14th centuries. However, after the native Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Yuan Dynasty in 1368, Christians were expelled from China. Many Mongols in the western part of the Empire converted to Islam, and with the collapse of the entire Mongol Empire in the 14th century, Christianity nearly disappeared from Central Asia, only reappearing after the Second Opium War in the mid-19th century. In time, a mission was founded for Outer Mongolia, giving Mongolia its first Roman Catholic jurisdiction, but all work ceased within a year when the Mongolian People's Republic was established and freedom of thought and religion were no longer permitted. [12]

After the Mongolian Revolution of 1990, Roman Catholic missionaries returned and rebuilt the church from scratch. As of 2006, there is an Apostolic Prefecture, a bishop, three churches, and diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mongolia since 1992. Pope John Paul II originally planned to visit Mongolia along with Kazan, but he eventually cancelled the trip, supposedly explaining to a Russian newspaper that "Our Lord does not want it". [13] By 2014, there were 919 Catholics in the Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, headed by Wenceslao Selga Padilla, C.I.C.M. as Prefect and organized into 6 parishes. [14]

Protestantism

Protestant church in Zuunmod, Tov Province ZuunmodChurch.jpg
Protestant church in Zuunmod, Töv Province

Most Christians in Mongolia today are Protestant, and most have become Christians since the Mongolian Revolution of 1990. Mongolia has a local Christian TV station, Eagle Television, and a pro-Christian radio station, Family Radio.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In 1992, six The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in Mongolia as English teachers. In 1995, the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission was established with Richard Cook as the first mission president. The Ulaanbaatar Mongolia West Stake with six congregations was formed in 2009 growing to nine congregations by May 2016. The Ulaanbaatar Mongolia East Stake was created in May 2016 with six congregations. About 2010 new visa laws went into effect limiting foreigners causing many of the foreign Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries to be reassigned to other countries. There were, however, about 110 Mongolian missionaries serving full time missions inside Mongolia. By the end of 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had 11,250 members in twenty-three congregations. [15] [16]

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Möngke Khan Fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

Möngke was the fourth khagan of the Mongol Empire, ruling from July 1, 1251, to August 11, 1259. He was the first Khagan from the Toluid line, and made significant reforms to improve the administration of the Empire during his reign. Under Möngke, the Mongols conquered Iraq and Syria as well as the kingdom of Dali.

William of Rubruck

William of Rubruck was a Flemish Franciscan missionary and explorer. His account of his travels is one of the masterpieces of medieval geographical literature, comparable to those of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. Born in Rubrouck, Flanders, he is known also as William of Rubruk, Willem van Ruysbroeck, Guillaume de Rubrouck or Willielmus de Rubruquis. He travelled to various places of the Mongol Empire in Asia before his return to Europe.

Alopen Christian missionary in China

Alopen ; also "Aleben", "Aluoben", "Olopen," "Olopan," or "Olopuen") is the first recorded Christian missionary to have reached China, during the Tang dynasty. He was a missionary from the Church of the East, and probably a Syriac speaker from the Sasanian Empire or from Byzantine Syria. He is known exclusively from the Nestorian Stele, which describes his arrival in the Tang capital of Chang'an in 635 and his acceptance by Emperor Taizong of Tang. His is the earliest known name that can be attached to the history of the Church of the East in China.

Chinese Orthodox Church

The Chinese Orthodox Church is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church in China. It was granted autonomy by its mother church, the Russian Orthodox Church, in 1956.

Sorghaghtani Beki Mongol empress

Sorghaghtani Beki or Bekhi, also written Sorkaktani, Sorkhokhtani, Sorkhogtani, Siyurkuktiti was a Keraite princess and daughter-in-law of Genghis Khan. Married to Tolui, Genghis' youngest son, Sorghaghtani Beki became one of the most powerful and competent people in the Mongol Empire. She made policy decisions at a pivotal moment that led to the transition of the Mongol Empire towards a more cosmopolitan and sophisticated style of administration. She raised her sons to be leaders, and maneuvered the family politics so that all four of her sons, Möngke Khan, Hulagu Khan, Ariq Böke, and Kublai Khan, went on to inherit the legacy of their grandfather.

Keraites former Turco-Mongol tribal confederation in Mongolia

The Keraites were one of the five dominant Mongol or Turco-Mongol tribal confederations (khanates) in the Altai-Sayan region during the 12th century. They had converted to the Church of the East (Nestorianism) in the early 11th century and are one of the possible sources of the European Prester John legend.

Christianity in China Religious community

Christianity in China appeared in the 7th century, during the Tang dynasty, but did not take root until it was reintroduced in the 16th century by Jesuit missionaries. Today, it comprises Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Although its history in China is not as ancient as Taoism, Mahayana Buddhism or Confucianism, Christianity, through various ways, has been present in China since at least the 7th century and has gained significant influence during the last 200 years. The number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly since the easing of restrictions on religious activity during economic reforms in the late 1970s; Christians were four million before 1949.

Catholic Church in China French sphere of influence in Shanghai, China

The Catholic Church in China has a long and complicated history. Christianity has existed in China in various forms since at least the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century AD. Following the 1949 takeover by the Communist Party of China, Catholic and Protestant missionaries were expelled from the country, and the religion was vilified as a manifestation of western imperialism. In 1957, the Chinese government established the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which rejects the authority of the Holy See and appoints its own bishops. Since September 2018, however, the Papacy has the power to veto any Bishop which the Chinese government recommends.

Church of the East in China

The Church of the East or Nestorian Church had a presence in China during two periods: first from the 7th through the 10th century, and later during the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries. Locally, the religion was known as Jingjiao/Ching-chiao (景教), which literally means the “Luminous Religion”.

John of Montecorvino or Giovanni da Montecorvino in Italian (1247–1328) was an Italian Franciscan missionary, traveller and statesman, founder of the earliest Roman Catholic missions in India and China, and archbishop of Peking.

Catholic Church in Mongolia

The Catholic Church in Mongolia is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. There are around 1,300 Catholics in the country who are served by three churches in the capital Ulaanbaatar plus churches in Darkhan, Arvaikheer, Erdenet and mission stations that may grow into churches.

Christianity in Kazakhstan

Christianity in Kazakhstan is the second most practiced religion after Islam. There are 4,214,232 Christians in Kazakhstan. The majority of Christian citizens are Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians, who belong to the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan under the Moscow Patriarchate. About 1.5 percent of the population is ethnically German, most of whom follow the Catholic Church or Lutheranism. There are also many Presbyterians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and Pentecostals. Methodists, Mennonites, and Mormons have also registered churches with the government.

Religion in Mongolia

Religion in Mongolia has been traditionally dominated by the schools of Mongolian Buddhism and by Mongolian shamanism, the ethnic religion of the Mongols. Historically, through their Mongol Empire the Mongols were exposed to the influences of Christianity and Islam, although these religions never came to dominate. During the socialist period of the Mongolian People's Republic (1924-1992) all religions were suppressed, but with the transition to the parliamentary republic in the 1990s there has been a general revival of faiths.

Christianity among the Mongols

In modern times the Mongols are primarily Tibetan Buddhists, but in previous eras, especially during the time of the Mongol empire, they were primarily shamanist, and had a substantial minority of Christians, many of whom were in positions of considerable power. Overall, Mongols were highly tolerant of most religions, and typically sponsored several at the same time. Many Mongols had been proselytized by the Church of the East since about the seventh century, and some tribes' primary religion was Christian. In the time of Genghis Khan, his sons took Christian wives of the Keraites, and under the rule of Genghis Khan's grandson, Möngke Khan, the primary religious influence was Christian.

The Asud were a military group of Alani origin. The Mongol clan Asud is the plural of As, the Arabic name for the Alans.

Christianity in Asia

Christianity in Asia has its roots in the very inception of Christianity, which originated from the life and teachings of Jesus in 1st century Roman Judea. Christianity then spread through the missionary work of his apostles, first in the Levant and taking roots in the major cities such as Jerusalem and Antioch. According to tradition, further eastward expansion occurred via the preaching of Thomas the Apostle, who established Christianity in the Parthian Empire (Iran) and India. The very First Ecumenical Council was held in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor (325). The first nations to adopt Christianity as a state religion were Armenia in 301 and Georgia in 327. By the 4th century, Christianity became the dominant religion in all Asian provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Church of the East an Eastern Christian Church that in 410 organised itself within the Sasanid Empire and in 424 declared its leader independent of other Christian leaders; from the Persian Empire it spread to other parts of Asia in late antiquity and the Middle Ages

The Church of the East, also known as the Nestorian Church and the Persian Church, was an Eastern Christian denomination that in 410 organised itself within the Sasanian Empire, and in 424 declared its leader independent of "western" Church leaders, which for Church in the East included all those in the Roman Empire, including the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople. From the Persian Empire it spread to other parts of Asia in late antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Religion in the Mongol Empire

The Mongols were highly tolerant of most religions during the early Mongol Empire, and typically sponsored several at the same time. At the time of Genghis Khan in the 13th century, virtually every religion had found converts, from Buddhism to Eastern Christianity and Manichaeanism to Islam. To avoid strife, Genghis Khan set up an institution that ensured complete religious freedom, though he himself was a Shamanist. Under his administration, all religious leaders were exempt from taxation, and from public service. Mongol emperors were known for organizing competitions of religious debates among clerics, and these would draw large audiences.

References

  1. "Mongolia International: Religious Freedom Report 2005". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2006-10-31.
  2. Religions in Mongolia Archived 13 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. National Census 2010 Archived 15 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Mongolia Profile". OMF International. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  5. "A History of Religion in Mongolia". Mongolus.Net. Retrieved 2006-10-31.
  6. Gaby Bamana, ed., Christianity and Mongolia: Past and Present (Ulaanbaatar: Antoon Mostaert Center, 2006).
  7. "Nestorianism in Central Asia during the First Millennium" (PDF). jaas.org. Retrieved 2010-09-15., p.45
  8. Tjalling H. F. Halbertsma, Early Christian Remains of Inner Mongolia: Discovery, Reconstruction, and Appropriation (Leiden: Brill, 2008).
  9. Halperin, Charles J. "George Vernadsky, Eurasianism, the Mongols, and Russia", Slavic Review, Vol. 41, No. 3, Autumn, 1982: 477-493
  10. L. Altanzayaa, "Regarding the Protection of Russian Orthodox Priests in Mongolia", in Bamana, ed., 79-88.
  11. "A Russian Orthodox church to be built in Mongolia". www.orthodox.cn.
  12. Jeroom Heyndrickx, "The Catholic Mongol Mission", in Bamana, ed., 89-104.
  13. "Pope John Paul II cancels visits to Mongolia and Kazan". News from Russia. 2003-08-30. Archived from the original on 2005-12-19. Retrieved 2006-10-31.
  14. Cheney, David M. "Ulaanbaatar (Prefecture Apostolic) [Catholic-Hierarchy]". www.catholic-hierarchy.org.
  15. "Some Mormon missionaries leave Mongolia".
  16. "LDS Statistics and Church Facts - Total Church Membership".

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