The Chinese are traditionally eclectic in their religious beliefs. The Taiwan folk religion is a fluid mixture of shamanism, ancestor worship, magic, ghosts and spirits, and aspects of animism. These commonly overlap with an individual's belief in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, or other traditional Chinese religions. Natural phenomena have been deified, and ancestors, sages, virtuous women, and historical personalities have been given the status of gods. In 2002, observers estimated that about 80% of the population practiced some mixture of traditional Chinese folk religion in conjunction with Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. About 24% of the population are nominally Buddhist and about 20% are Taoist. Only about 12,500 people practice Confucianism.
The first Westerners to bring Christianity to Taiwan were the Dutch (1624). However, a great persecution of Christians took place when the island was lost to Cheng Ch'eng-kung in 1662. Christianity made another beginning in 1860, when a missionary from Scotland came to the island. The English Presbyterian Mission started its work in the southern part of Taiwan about 100 years ago. Since the end of World War II, more than 80 Protestant denominations have been established on the island, and the activities of Christian missions, many coming over from the mainland, have become widespread. As of 2002, Christians constituted about 4% of the total population. Denominations represented include Roman Catholic, Presbyterians, Mormons, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh-Day Adventists, Episcopalians, and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Other faiths include Tien Ti Chiao (Heaven Emperor Religion), Tien Te Chiao (Heaven Virtue Religion), Li-Ism, Hsuan Yuan Chiao (Yellow Emperor Religion), Maitraya Great Tao, Chinese Holy Religion, Hai Tzu Tao (Innocent Child Religion), Tien Li Chiao (Heaven Reason Religion), the Baha'i Faith, Mahikari, and Judaism. About 14% of the population are atheists.