SALVATION FROM AIDS AND CANCER OFFERED IN CENTRAL PARK
On March 25, 1998, Hon-Ming Chen , leader of Chen Tao / God's Salvation Church, announced in Garland, Texas, that God will not appear on Earth in person on March 31, 1998 as Chen had previously prophesied. Chen had also announced that God would appear on television channel 18 worldwide on March 25 at 12:01 a.m., U.S. Central Standard Time. When God failed to appear on TV on March 25, Chen -- who was eagerly awaiting with his followers the historical event in Garland -- announced that: "Because we did not see God's message on television tonight, my predictions of March 31 can be considered nonsense". Chen (who speaks only Chinese and was translated by a Chen Tao interpreter) added: "I hope that everybody can still have the true belief in God, in the existence of God. Even though the image doesn't show on the television, I don't have any reason to doubt the existence of the supreme being, God." Chen said at first on March 25 he will stay in Garland "to continue studying and researching." He insisted that his followers are free to go their own way, and have always been. Police continued to keep a watch fearing a possible mass suicide, although nothing in Chen Tao's behaviour so far points to a suicide. Between March 31 and April 1 Chen in fact seemed to recover from the prophetic failure and announced to the followers: "You yourself have become Gods". As usual in similar groups, the prophecy for the faithful did not fail: God appeared -- not in person but in the body of the members of Chen Tao. Chen then left Garland and inspected areas in Michigan and New York for the group to relocate. In May 1998 the majority of members left Garland. Half, with visa problems, returned to Taiwan. Half moved to Lockport, New York. According to independent researcher Rodney Perkins, Chen had a vision in which he saw the numbers 17 and 78. While the lake regions in upstate New York was being considered from some weeks, Olcott was selected because it is where Routes 17 and 78 intersect.
Later, a group moved to Brooklyn, New York, where a "counseling center" has been organized (see programme hereunder), while services promising to heal from AIDS and cancer are offered daily in New York's Central Park, now recognized as God's new main base.
U.S. and international media started reporting disturbing news about the Taiwanese new religious movement headquartered in Garland (Texas) in the summer of 1997 and have continued through the March 1998 events. It is referred as "a Taiwanese UFO cult". Leading U.S. anti-cultists suggested that it is a particularly dangerous cult and may be organizing a mass suicide. Two independent researchers from Dallas, Texas, Rodney Perkins and Forrest Jackson, have interviewed members of the movement, including the founder's spokesperson and translator Mr. Richard Liu, and gathered primary literature. (Perkins and Jackson are the authors of Cosmic Suicide: The Tragedy and Transcendence of Heaven's Gate , published by The Pentaradial Press, PO Box 600318, Dallas, TX 75360 - Website: http://www.pentaradial.com/). What follows is partially based on information supplied by them and can be quoted only by mentioning Jackson and Perkins as source. It is also based on Chen Tao's own publications, an interview by Dr. Massimo Introvigne with Liu, documents on Taiwanese new religious movements in the archives of CESNUR. CESNUR will keep a watch on the Chen Tao situation and has a collection of all the documents in English published directly from the movement.
Chen Tao means "True Way" and this is the name the group prefers to use (rather than "God's Salvation Church", often mentioned in the press, or "God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation", apparently a name used earlier in Taiwan. ). The founder of Chen Tao in its present form is a 42-year old Taiwanese national named Hon-Ming Chen who is, according to the media, a former professor of sociology. According to an article by Perkins and Jackson in Fortean Times n. 109 Hon-Ming Chen "once taught at Chianan College of Pharmacology and Science. Originally, he received direction from Ms. Yu-Hsia Chen [whom some scholars regard as the real "founder" of the movement], who he believes was one of Gods representatives on Earth. His first spiritual proclamation was that on 11 February, 1996 all Gods and Buddhas descended upon a temple at Pei-Pu village in, Hsin-chu County, Taiwan." Subsequently, following divine revelation, Chen and core followers moved to San Dimas, California, where they formed God's Salvation Church. Perkins and Jackson write: "Chen drew attention in mid-1997 when he claimed to have discovered a man in Vancouver, Canada who was supposedly the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Chen already had a 10 year-old boy named Chi-Jen Lo within his group who was touted as the reincarnation of Buddha. The mentors goal was to arrange a meeting between these two embodied gods. (...) The meeting between Buddha and the Canadian Christ never occurred, but a 9 year-old named Che-yu Chiang has now assumed the messianic role." In the meantime the group moved from San Dimas to Garland, Texas (apparently selected because the name sounds as "God's Land"), where a residence for Chen was purchased on March 26, 1997 and some 150 followers soon moved. Chen claimed that God would appear in his body in Garland on 31 March, 1998 at 10:00 AM. God would personally appear on TV (the movement advises to check Channel 18) six days before March 31. Chen said that God would perform miracles to prove his divine power, including bilocation and xenoglossia (being able to speak in foreign tongues, not to be confused with glossolalia, the more common gift of tongues). In his book God's Descending in Clouds (Flying Saucers) on Earth to Save People (Garland, Texas: Privately published, 1997), Chen said:"I have the full faith to say that God will appear at the referred time. At that time people shall see the 'One' in exactly the same look of me to meet the people. I guarantee this on my life." (178)
Chen Tao appears to be a syncretistic movement including references to Buddhism, Christianity and Taiwanese folk beliefs. Living beings originate in a "central vortex". They then pass into the material realm where they can become humans, animals, angels, or devils. Devils are described as "outside spirits" -- reminiscent of both the "hungry ghosts" of the Buddhist lore and of Western vampires -- who feast on human energy. According to Chen,the average human possesses three million degrees of spiritual light energy, while "the infinite light of cosmic origin is more than twelve million degrees." (27) Beings that resonate within the intermediate range are vampiric in essence. They can dupe normal humans and drain them of energy. Victims of this kind of vampirism may reincarnate as animal, while worthy human beings with cultivated souls will eventually be delivered from the karmic cycle and attain Buddhahood.
In 1996 Chen privately published another book, The Practical Evidence and Study of the World of God and Buddha . There, he developed an esoteric doctrine of the three souls: the physical soul, the main spiritual light, and the conscious soul. The three souls are separated at death. Individuals who die violently or unexpectedly tend to become ghosts (a common theme in Taiwanese folklore). For the others -- and presumably for the redeemed ghosts -- there is the possibility of receiving an "absolution" in the underworld,becoming one with the great Infinity and avoiding further reincarnations..
In The Practical Evidence, Chen denounces the rival Taiwanese Buddhist religious movements (many of them are now active also in the West). He writes: "It is lamentable that ninety-nine percent of the temples in Taiwan are presided over by outside spirits. Those newly founded so-and-so Buddhist schools or religious sects are particularly controlled by the outside spirit of the demon level. However, only the Right Way can help us to make correct judgment and proof." (116) Concerning Christianity, Chen discounts the god of the Old Testament as "cruel, narrow-minded, unable to tell good from evil, and partial with preference only for Israelites," while the true God, as manifested through Christ and Buddha, is "complete love, generosity, mercy, peace, justice, and forgiving." (157)
Chen Tao believes that the Earth has already suffered four great tribulations, each of which has ended in nuclear war. After each disaster, people escaped in flying saucers and then returned to Earth to live underground until the radiation on the surface dissipated. The next great tribulation will occur in 1999 and Chen believes that through Chen Tao some people may be able to avoid the cataclysm. As in many other Taiwanese religions, there is also a strong criticism of Chinese communism. The future leader of mainland China, whom Chen describes as "the condensation of human karma and depravity" (God's Descending, 112), will initiate a military blockade against Taiwan in January 1999. The following month will see a "unification" war between North and South Korea and the subsequent economic collapse of all major East Asian countries. By March, Taiwan will have a diminished food supply and its citizens will resort to cannibalism to survive. Japan will once again militarize and attempt to expand its borders. In August, Armageddon will occur as Asia, Africa and Europe enter a nuclear war that will annihilate most of the world. In the meantime, "God will instruct the leader of the United States of America that the United States of America is the select place for the headquarters of God's Kingdom, and God has His Own plan." (115) One reason Chen came to Texas is to prepare the American government to welcome the millions of refugees who will come to the U.S. from overseas. Ultimately, at any rate, the present civilization will come to an end. Worthy souls will return to the Infinity, but those still attached to the karmic cycle will be prevented from attaining Nirvana. These unfortunate ones will have to wait "billions of years" until another civilization forms on Earth.
Chen Tao always emphatically denied that it was preparing a mass suicide for March 31 or any other date. If God does not manifest itself in Chen's body at a later date, followers may simply return to Taiwan. In an interview with Dr. Massimo Introvigne, director of CESNUR, granted in Garland on January 31, 1998, Richard Liu, spokesperson for Chen Tao,declared that according to the movement's expectations on March 31 God would appear in Garland as a person similar, yet different from Chen. Followers did not expect to simply see a transfigured Chen, but two different characters: God and Chen. On the other hand, Liu accepted to discuss the possibility that God would not appear on March 31. In this case, he said, "we will conclude that God has changed his plan and no doubt God's new plan will be revealed through God's messenger [Chen]". Liu thought in January that if nothing significant would happen on March 31 some followers may return to Taiwan and eventually abandon the movement. Others however will remain in the U.S. awaiting God's directions. "Some, he said, have already applied for naturalization in the U.S." Liu denied that followers may move to Gary, Indiana, where a sacred ritual was performed by Chen Tao on January 9, although Gary has a peculiar role in God's plan according to Chen (and neighbors in Garland claim that Chen Tao members at a time discussed a possible move to Gary).
What will really happen in the future is difficult to foresee. Anti-cultists are insisting that some action should be taken by the U.S. authorities. The latter already acted in December 1997 to return a 16-year old daughter who was in San Dimas with Chen Tao, to her mother. It was however denied that any form of kidnapping or violence was involved. Later in the same month all San Dimas followers moved to Garland. The incident seems to have contributed to the "discovery" of Chen Tao by the U.S. media. Anti-cultists would do better to consider sociological theories of amplified deviance and the risk that outside pressure on Chen Tao will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy of disaster. On the other hand, the history of apocalyptic religious movements proves that "when prophecy fails" a group does not necessarily disband. Instead, it can eventually rationalize the prophetic failure, continue and even grow.
(we thank Forrest Jackson for this and other documents)
Services for salvation and saving the world:
(1). Opening the Book of Life and Death. (2). To ask God to develop new antibody.
(3). Medication can be maintained. (4). No physical contact; based on distance treatment.
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Hosted by: Professor Hon-Ming Chen
Experience: Associate Professor at Chia-Nan Pharmacology and Medicine College in Taiwan
President of The China Soul-Light Research Association
Writings: 1. The Practical Evidences of the World of God and Buddha
2. The Conferment of God's Great Supernatural Power and Super-high Technology
3. Study of the Political Semiotics of the Republic of China (Winner of the Gold Medal Prize of the Research Thesis conferred by Taiwan Education Administration in 1988)
4. Examination of Chinese Chivalry and the Practice of Three Principles of the People in the Light of Human Character (Winner of the Prize of the Special Issue of the Teaching of The Three Principles of the People by the Taiwan Education Administration in 1990)
Mailing Address: 1935 W 10th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223
Tel: 718-265-1826; 718-614-4644 Fax: 718-265-1826
Web site: http://trueway-chentao.homepage.com [Note: The Web site no longer exists]
See also Chen Tao in Texas: A New Religious Movement, its Host Community, and Mass-Mediated Adaptation - by Ryan J. Cook, University of Chicago (A paper presented at CESNUR 99 conference, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania)
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