CBS-TV Report on UFO cult

"Southern California Authorities Move on Flying Saucer Cult," reads the headline above a Dec. 23 report from CBS-TV/Channel2000 from San Dimas, California, with a subhead reading "Group's actions lead to fears of another mass suicide." The complete story reads: Amid concerns of another mass suicide, Southern California authorities say they've broken up a cult kidnapping. The group, called God's Salvation Church, was based in San Dimas and some members were on the move to Garland, Texas, when police moved in Monday night, reports CBS 2 News. Authorities, tipped off by the Taiwanese government, raided the home of one of the cult members to rescue a 16-year-old girl (pictured), said CBS 2 News reporter Kyle Kraska. The teen's mother claimed her daughter was being held against her will. "We got information ... that there might be (an) attempt to suicide, so it was urgent for us to really contact the church and get a hold of her," Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spokesman Thanh Ly told Kraska. The girl was among more than 100 Taiwanese members of the extreme religious group, said Kraska. They came together at a San Dimas church before starting their journey to Texas. The move comes in response to what they say is a message from God about a trip to heaven aboard a spaceship. "On March 31st there will be one God appear in the exact appearance with Mr. Chen," said the leader of the group, Hon Ming Chen (pictured, above), speaking through a translator. Some 21 families from the church have moved to a house in Garland to await God's spaceship, said Kraska. Chen has purchased a house (pictured) in the Ridgewood neighborhood to act as the Garland headquarters. The story is eerily similar to the infamous "Heaven's Gate" cult -- so much so that the Taiwanese government has become very concerned and has set up a special task force to investigate the group, said Kraska. Heaven's Gate members committed suicide in the belief they would be taken to paradise aboard a spaceship. The bodies of 39 cult members were found March 26 at a rented Rancho Santa Fe mansion. (Full story) However, members of God's Salvation Church have tried to reassure their government that they are not a suicidal religious cult. They say they consider every life precious and would never commit suicide, said Kraska. But not everyone is reassured by the group's claims. "They might not think, all of them think, (that) they might kill themselves, but I believe some of them of them do feel they might kill themselves or have some kind of ... gas (and) when they're sleeping they might take their lives," Gilbert Orneleus, who has investigated the church and worked with the Taiwanese government, told Kraska. One member's mother told police her daughter had paid 60,000 Taiwan dollars ($1,875 U.S.) in membership fees and had been asked to pay at least $30,000 U.S. more if she were to be saved, reported The Agence France-Presse (AFPR). Several ministries in Taiwan, including the foreign ministry, met Monday to work out measures against the cult, said AFPR.

Dec. 22 CBS-TV transcript (L.A.)

"Is a Taiwanese Cult Another Heaven's Gate?" reads the headline above a Dec. 22 report from CBS-TV in Los Angeles, with a subhead reading "Taiwan Steps Up Investigation into Flying Saucer Cult." The complete transcript reads: A large group of Taiwanese citizens has moved to Texas in response to what they say is a message from God about a trip to heaven aboard a spaceship. According to CBS 2 News, the Taiwanese group based in San Dimas sounds a lot like the infamous "Heaven's Gate" group -- so much so that the Taiwanese government has become very concerned. Heaven's Gate cult members committed suicide in the belief they would be taken to paradise aboard a spaceship. (Full story) The bodies of 39 Heaven's Gate members were found March 26 at a rented Rancho Santa Fe mansion. The Taiwanese group, called God's Salvation Church, have tried to reassure their government that they are not a suicidal religious cult. They say they consider every life is too precious and would never commit suicide, said CBS 2 News. One member's mother told police her daughter had paid 60,000 Taiwan dollars ($1,875 U.S.) in membership fees and had been asked to pay at least $30,000 U.S. more if she were to be saved, reported The Agence France-Presse (AFPR). Several ministries, including the foreign ministry, met Monday to work out measures against the cult, said AFPR. Meanwhile, 21 families from the church have moved to a house in Garland, Texas, to await God's spaceship which is expected to land on March 31, reports CBS 2 News' Kyle Kraska. The leader of the group, Hon Ming Chen, purchased a house (pictured, left) in the Ridgewood neighborhood to act as the Garland headquarters. Taiwan has set up a special force to investigate the cult, said CBS 2 News.

Report from Taiwan (summary)

"Evidence Against Taiwan UFO Cult Mounts," reads the headline above a story I wrote from http://www. trancenet.org in California on Dec. 30. Datedlined from Taiwan, where I am currently residing, the story reads: " The news from Taiwan points to a tragedy-in-the-making. The two English-language newspapers, The China Post and the China News, are covering the Chen Tao UFO cult in Garland on a regular basis and gathering more and more evidence against the cult. A recent article in the China News, headlined "Evidence against Taiwan cult leader surfaces," notes that the Taipei District Prosecutors Office received a package the day before Christmas that contained evidence against Hon Ming Chen, the 42-year-old leader of the cult in Garland, Texas. Chief Prosecutor Fumei Chu said the evidence suggests Chen told his followers to establish a headquarters for his cult in Texas earlier this year. The Chinese-language newspaper United Evening News reported that the package contained evidence that Chen had urged followers to commit mass suicide.The package contained videotapes, cassettes, and printed material, according to the United Evening News. Police also found that cultists had to sign a contract for their "trip," the newspaper reported. The contract stipulates that followers cannot return to Taiwan before March 31, police said. Taiwan police have also received a letter from one cultist accusing Chen of fraudulently obtaining money from sect members. The letter also said that cult members were set to die in a horrible manner if they believed Chen's teachings. Another follower has also come forward after returning to his home in Taiwan, after leaving his wife and children to go the United States. He described the trip as a "nightmare." The China News has also reported that the Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau (Taiwan's FBI) has tried to interview a second leader of the cult, a medical doctor by the name of Shihkuan Lo. Police believe there are three leaders of the cult, Chen, Lo and an unidentified third man. When the CIB attempted to question Lo before Christmas in Taiwan, they were "met with hostility" and failed to interview him, according to the China News. Lo later left for the United States, the newspaper reported. A Taiwanese man who is not a member of the cult, but whose family members and relatives, 12 in all, have joined the cult in Garland, told the China News that he was worried about them. He said that when he tried to call them in mid-December, they told him that they were "embarrassed" to return to Taiwan because of public opinion. In Chinese culture, fear of "losing face" is a grave concern. One of the most startling developments in the entire UFO cult affair has been the attitude of The China Post, a 20-page newspaper directed at the foreign and diplomatic community in Taiwan. In an editorial published on Christmas Day, headlined "UFO cult says a lot about Taiwan," the paper outlined the background of the cult and its headline-grabbing activities in California and Texas. But then the editorial took a very different direction, noting: "It is too early to tell whether Chen's prediction that God will show up at the end of March is correct. We won't know, in fact, until that very moment. Maybe his prophecy will turn out to be true...Let's wait and see." This unsigned editorial says a lot about Taiwan! -- (c)1997 Terry Walker (http://members.tripod.com/~tokyoboardwalker/UFO.html emailto: apt_6f@hotmail.com)====================================================================================================================RELATED NEWS: (Jan. 9) -- "UFO suicide cult in Spain is thwarted by authorities," reads the headline above a Reuters story from Madrid, written by Tracey Ober. The text reads: Spanish police foiled a mass suicide planned by a doomsday sect whose 30 members believed their souls would be carried away by a spaceship from the summit at Tenerife's Teide volcano, officials said on Thursday. The group, which may be linked to the infamous Solar Temple suicide cult or a Hindu apocalyptic sect, was convinced that the world would end at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, according to a Canaries government official. Police who had been tracking the group's movement arrested their leader, German psychologist Heide Fittkau-Garthe, late on Wednesday alleging inducement to suicide. They identified 29 other sect members, including 20 women and four children, all of them German nationals except for one woman from the Canary Islands. They were staging a "last supper" at a private residence in the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife before police intervened, officials said. The group was said to have planned to use rented cars to reach the Teide volcano, where they believed they were to be picked up by the spaceship. Officials believe the Canaries group emerged from the Isis Holistic Center in Santa Cruz. They started watching closely for cult activity in the Canary Islands a year ago after noticing a growing number of what they called "destructive sects." "Inducement to suicide is a crime, and for that reason the security forces had to avoid this evil thing," Antonio Lopez, the Canaries official, told a news conference. The group's followers, who were not detained with their leader, refused to speak to police. Officials said they appeared to still be under Fittkau-Garthe's influence. -- (c) Reuters News Service

(from the) CHINA NEWS (in Taiwan)

" Cult awaits God on March 31" trumpeted the headline in the Dec. 25 issue of the China News in Taiwan, with a subhead reading " Taiwanese sect leader gives first news conference in Texas." The text reads: A Taiwanese spiritual sect has moved into a working-class neighborhood in this north Dallas suburb to await God's arrival here in March 1998, the group's leader said on Tuesday. Chen Hon-ming, who led about 150 followers including more than 30 children here from Taiwan, said on Tuesday God would be reincarnated as man on March 31 at precisely 10 am local time at his modest house on Ridgedale Drive. Chen, who chose to move to Garland because it sounds like "God land," said he would put his life in the hands of his followers if the prophesy was not fulfilled. "If it does not happen, he will put his life in the hands of the people whether he should be executed or put to death," said an interpreter for Chen, who spoke in Chinese. Contrary to news reports in Taiwan, the group does not plan to stage a mass suicide if God fails to show, said Lo Yu-cheng, deputy director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston, who visited leaders and other members of the group last week. "There's no reason to be concerned that they would commit suicide," Lo told Reuters. "They have return (airplane) tickets home." Newspapers in Taiwan last week reported that the group would stage a mass suicide in Texas. Concerns were heightened when the group's name was translated into English as "God Save the Flying Saucers," conjuring images of the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate cult in San Diego last March. In his first news conference since arriving in Garland, Chen said God's arrival would be preceded by turbulent weather, heavenly writings in the skies and sightings of aircraft moving at miraculous speeds. An advertisement would be broadcast on local television six days before God's arrival, Chen said. "If you turn on your television and switch your channel to channel 18, you will see God making the advertisement that he is coming into the world," Chen said. "It is advertised by God himself." Chen preaches a mix of Christianity and Buddhism, but most of his followers do not have strong religious beliefs, Lo said. The group, which includes an engineer, doctors and several teachers, believes a disaster will strike Taiwan next year and the earth will come to an end before the end of the century unless God intervenes, he said. The group's arrival intrigued local residents in Garland, where the group bought up 20 homes and hoped to attract a million people to be touched by the hands of God in March. But Mayor James Ratliff said he was too busy dealing with a sewer plant failure over the weekend to keep close tabs on the group's activities. "The first thing we know from scripture is no man knows the time the Lord is going to return," he said. "Our police department has been put aware and we don't want them to endanger anyone, including themselves." -- (c)1997 China News.

(more from) CHINA NEWS (in Taiwan)

"'Saucer' cultists reportedly paid huge membership fees," reads the headline above an unbylined story in the China News on Dec. 23, a few days after the main story broke in Taipei, trumpeted on TV news shows, radio and Chinese newspapers. The story reads: The Criminal Investigation Bureau (the CIB, kind of like Taiwan's FBI -- ed.) has uncovered allegations that the leader of the religious cult that recently left for the US collected large sums of money from members as a "joining fee," and that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been called on to assist in the investigation, according to a report in the China Times Express, a Chinese-language newspaper. The CIB interviewed a family belonging to the "God Save the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation" and found that the leader of the cult, Chen Heng-ming, had requested US$60,000 as a fee for joining the sect. Members of the foundation are said to be planning a mass suicide to take place in Texas. Details of the exact nature of the "Saucer Foundation" are sketchy. Various newspaper reports have indicated that the members have left Taiwan to escape a decaying environment and an increase in crime. The cult members believe they are to meet with a UFO sometime in March next year, and be taken to a better place. Chou Lin Yue-li, the mother of the family, said that Chen requested that her daughter pay NT$60,000 to become a member, and between US$30,000 and US$60,000 more for the privilege of securing a "lift" on the flying saucer. Prosecutor Chu Fu-mei investigated four areas where the cult apparently held meetings: Hsinchu County, Taichung City, Tainan City and Kaohsiung County. He said that he is working to find information which could show that Chen had collected fees from members illegally. Chu said that the leader of the cult may have used deceptive methods to obtain funds, or solicited money in a way that is inconsistent with the legal channels afforded mainstream religions. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, National Police Administration, Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission and the Taipei Investigation Bureau have held discussions on the issue of whether or not the cultists are actually gathering for a mass suicide and what steps can be taken to persuade these people to return safely to Taiwan. According to MOFA spokesman Roy Wu, the leader of the cult will be questioned in detail by the director of Taiwan's representative trade office in Houston as soon as the two can arrange a meeting. In related news, a local group studying Unidentified Flying Objects, or UFOs, held a press conference in Taipei to urge residents not to be confused by the recent events surrounding the cult. Chinese Ufology Association Chairman Ho Hsien-jung urged the government to step in and help educate the public on the scientific possibilities of UFOs and to make it clear that religious cults are in no way connected with their association or extraterrestral activities. -- (c)1997 CHINA NEWS