Greenies Fight Religious Custom in Taiwan

Concern about global warming prompts attempt to change money-burning ritual
By Elizabeth Harmon,  Newser User
Posted Aug 22, 2008 6:30 PM CDT
Taiwanese people burn pretend money during the ghost month ceremony in Taipei.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Taiwanese environmentalists are working to douse the flames of "Ghost Month," during which Taoists and Buddhists burn ritual paper money to honor ancestors. Setting one ton of money ablaze releases at least an equal amount carbon dioxide, the AFP reports; temples and households can now turn over their money to state incinerators "cleansed" by monks and designed to better handle the exhaust.

"We can't ban a folk belief but we hope to change how it is practiced to ease pollution and eventually to phase the habit out," one official said. Some religious groups have endorsed the change; others suggest donating the money to charity: "We believe that if a person is sincere, his or her prayers will be answered without such offerings," a rep said.