"After March 31, everything will be clear..."
"After March 31, everything will be clear," Richard Liu told the Gary Post-Tribune on January 9, during a Lake Michigan "blessing ceremony," complete with white cowboy hats and Leader Chen speaking to "God" through the palm of his hand. The report witnesed this. I write these notes a few days later, on January 16, after spending about three weeks on this media alert project. Got this web site up, added a few more pages, archived some articles, emailed back and forth to about 25 regular "correspondents" in the USA and Taiwan. Have we gotten anywhere? Not very far. The media still remains skittish about this story, and by the media I mean the New York Times, Newsweek and Time. Because until these established and authoritative publications run stories about Chen Tao, the cult will remain a "filler" story for the wire services and regional newspapers. Until the New York Times weighs in with a serious investigative report, this UFO cult on the outskirts of Dallas will remain a freak show, a circus sideshow for headline writers and chat groups. But if we've learned anything from the Heaven's Gate debacle, it's that the media cannot be too vigilant in dealing with these off-the-wall UFO suicice cults. Oh, this Cen Tao cult is not going to off themselves a la Heaven's Gaters? Pay attention to the details. "After March 31, everything will be clear," said the former professor of American literature Richard Liu, the cult's fluent spokesman for English-language media. Isn't the handwriting on the wall? Can't you see?_________(pause)________I am not predicting the cult will commit mass suicide. I hope they don't. I started up this web site to help avert a tragedy by alerting the media and providing some resource material for reporters and researchers. I want a happy ending to this "event" on March 31. But having lived through the voluminous media reporting about Aum Supreme Truth in Japan (I was there when the subways were gassed and narrowly missed being on the "wrong" train that morning) and Heaven's Gate, it is apparent that Chen Tao is a cult based on mind-control, supernatural beliefs and science-fiction film plots. The leader is a true wacko, his followers are true cultists, sheep being led to...led to....what? Isn't it apparent? My critics in the media, are they are legion, say "drop the hype, Walker, there's no cause for alarm here;" but I remain adamant, along with a few others in the field of mind control and cult psychology that a real tragedy is in the making. I believe it can be averted, but the media is going to have to delve deeper into this story and expose the fraud and the deception before it is too late. Given the media's track record and the nature of "news" (a suicide sells more papers than a calm investigative piece beforehand -- and gives reporters their jollies as they joke among the headlines), I fear for the worst. Any rebuttals? Email me___________(pause)____________Will history repeat itself? The following quote if from UFO Magazine in May 1995, two years before the Heaven's Gate "event" startled the world: "Who are these people? And why should we care? For starters, TOA (Total Overcomers Anonymous, an early name for Heaven's Gate) is
not some invasion from the skies, but the creation of a middle-class
Texas couple named Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles,
also know as 'Bo' and 'Peep' or 'Do and 'Te' to their followers and
the press (TOA was first covered in a UFO context by Jacques Vallee
in 'Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults', And/Or Press,
Berkeley, CA, 1979.) But the bigger answer is more complex, with
negative repercussions, I think, for potential new recruits, UFO
researchers, and abductees alike.
TOA has all the earmarks of a cult, and the current 'metaphysical'
climate in certain sectors of American society makes them dangerously
susceptible to groups like these. TOA is in the process of a
recruitment drive, and if its past history is any indication..." (anyone remember this?)_______(finale)_______ Yes, who ARE these people? And WHY should we care? Enough said?
Overview of the Making of "Chen Tao"
David D. Rogers wrote a very good overview of the Chen Tao cult on another very good web site: www.trancenet.org. Great resource. Run by John Knapp. News editor is Kelly Parrish. Rogers states that Chen Tao is also known as God's Salvation Church, The God
and Buddha Salvation Foundation, The Chinese Association of the Light
of the Soul and the God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation. His long and peceptive overview, written in late December 1997, follows:___________
A Taiwanese-based UFO cult was "discovered" this past week by the
U.S. media after a worried mother reported her 16-year-old daughter
kidnapped to police officials in Los Angeles County. While the group
may or may not be considering suicide, a number of eerie similarities
have cropped up between this group and the Heaven's Gate group that
committed suicide this past march near San Diego.
Nan Hwa Chiang was reunited with her mother at the Sheriff's department
on Mon. Dec. 22. Lt. Roosevelt Blow told the Los Angeles Times that "we
have no evidence of a crime," although an MSNBC news report stated that
a Sheriff's investigation is continuing. The girl was living in an
apartment complex next to "God's Salvation Church" (the group's
registered name in California) in San Dimas. MSNBC reported that her
father, a church member, had reportedly died of cancer and requested she
stay with her uncle, also a member. Her mother flew from Taiwan to get
her, and is expected to return with her daughter.
The group -- usually known as "Chen Tao," or "True Way" in English--
believes that God will make his presence known this March 31 (a little
more than a year after Heaven's Gate) when He inhabits the body of its
leader, Hon-Ming Chen (whose last name is conveniently in the group's
name). The event will be televised nationwide on channel 18, presumably
by the power of the Holy Spirit. The group has no official name; in
addition to Chen Tao, its literature gives names such as "God's
Salvation Church," "God and Buddha Salvation Foundation" and "The
Chinese Association of the Light of Soul." After the San Dimas fiasco,
"God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation" was dropped as a name.
After the Salvation Church was exposed, group members made their move to
Garland, TX (a suburb of Dallas), which they had already been planning
for months. The Houston Chronicle quoted Tawnia Winchell, whose
mother-in-law lives across the street from their principal residence, as
saying that "They all came down here this past summer and bought up all
the houses with cash. It's a trip." The Dallas Morning News reported
that the group has bought 21 homes in the suburb.
As to why God has chosen Garland, member Chen-Sheng Wu told the Houston
Chronicle that "Garland" sounds similar to "God's Land," although "we
don't know if that's the reason" why God told him to move to the land of
110,000 people. Chen prophesies that the Western Hemisphere, and
especially the United States, will be safe from the Holocaust of the
next two years -- but more on that later.
It's not yet clear as to whether the group actually plans to commit
suicide, although KCBS-TV news in Los Angeles reported that Taiwanese
officials told the Sheriff's department that the group planned to commit
mass suicide, according to the City News Service. But Yu-Chung Lo,
deputy director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural office who had met
the group in Garland, told the Associated Press that there is nothing to
fear from Chen Tao: "I believe they would never commit suicide because
as so far as I understand they are very gentle, friendly and most of
them are highly educated." Reports haven't come in yet as to whether Mr.
Lo had knowledge about Heaven's Gate or Jonestown before he made that
Church members themselves deny that they're going to commit suicide: "To
commit suicide is to kill God... It's killing your soul that was
delegated to you from God," an unidentified follower in San Dimas told
the AP. The Los Angeles Times quoted Lo: "When I asked them about it,
some of them reacted very angrily, some of them said it was ridiculous."
The Chronicle quoted an unnamed "Taiwanese cultural officer" from
Houston who visited Garland said that some members of the group bought
round-trip airline tickets, leaving open the possibility that not all
members have made contingency plans. Lo himself appears to be erring on
the side of caution: He told the Dallas Morning News that officials will
visit the group periodically. "We are keeping a file on each person...
Families in Taiwan want to know how their loved ones are," Lo said. He
seemed less certain about the group's beliefs: "To me, it's just like
somebody who believes in Santa Claus," the Chronicle quoted him as
KXAS-TV in Dallas reported that the group began in Taiwan in the 1950s,
though the evolution of the group wasn't fleshed out through a recent
(December 1997) Lexis-Nexis search. Chen, a 42-year-old former sociology
professor, told the Dallas Morning News through an interpreter that he
began receiving messages directly from God in 1992, although he received
prophecies from a "golden ball" as a small child. At their Tuesday news
conference in Garland, Chen or his interpreter made a possible Freudian
slip while announcing that "People worry about our mass suicide. But we
are really worried about people's mass suicide when the great
tribulation happens" in 1999.
Chen says that a series of events will lead to the '99 nuclear
holocaust, starting when China attacks Taiwan next month. Eight months
later, three nuclear power plants will explode in Taiwan, followed by
October's nuclear bomb blast in the Middle East. By 1999, there will be
full-scale nuclear war. But "America is the place that will be protected
by God," according to Chen. "After the nuclear war, more than
four-fifths of the world population will be killed. More than a hundred
million of people (sic) are estimated to be the select of God and saved
by God." The last U.S. Census reported that there were more than 100
million people; however, that census was taken in 1990.
God's plans weren't made clear in advance to Charles Amyx, who lives
next door to Chen Tao's primary residence. At the press conference, he
asked if he's going to be in danger later next year if he doesn't
believe in Chen's doctrine. Chen tried to assure Amyx that "There isn't
any danger... God comes not to judge people... it will all become clear
March 31." But Amyx wasn't convinced, as he told the Chronicle: "They
say my house isn't insured for acts of God, so I guess I'm not covered
if God comes down in a spaceship."
Chen tells his believers that he was the father of Jesus in a previous
incarnation, making him either God or Joseph. But he maintains that God
has Chen's face, which makes him (and possibly Joseph) more Godlike. He
introduced the current incarnations of Jesus and Buddha, ages 10 and 9,
to the national media at Tuesday's press conference. Chen's Jesus is the
Jesus of the East; the group is still waiting for the Jesus of the West,
who they say is 27-30 years old and is living in Vancouver, British
Columbia. Chen Tao reportedly placed ads in The Province and Vancouver
Sun newspapers earlier this year, hoping to catch the eye of the holy
man so he could meet the eastern Jesus at an airport terminal this past
How God is going to make his appearance isn't very clear. The Chronicle
reported that members spoke excitedly about God's coming to Garland in
an aircraft or airplane, which some referred to as a "Godplane."
Aircraft from other dimensions will also appear; presumably, those other
dimensions will have air in their outer space, if that is where the
aircraft originated from. But the craft may appear to look like a cloud;
KXAS quoted Chen as saying that "You can call it a cloud or a call it a
flying saucer. It's just like a cloud." The group has been seeing many
cloud formations lately in their trips across America, which constitute
part of their spiritual training. One of the pictures they provided to
the media showed a formation that they purported to spell "GOD,"
although the formation looked more like "007"; it was more likely a
publicity stunt for the new James Bond flick. How exactly God will enter
Chen's body is a mystery, but it's something we can look forward to
across the Americas on channel 18.
But like many groups with doomsday prophecies, Chen Tao has left open
the possibility that Mr. Chen is wrong about God's taking over his body.
As Richard Liu, a translator for Chen, melodramatically put it: "If it
should not happen, Mr. Chen will put his life on it. Whether he be
executed, stoned to death or put on a cross, it doesn't matter." If
history's any guide, he won't be. MORE INFO AT: _
The MSNBC report: http://www.msnbc.com/news/132184.asp and the
KXAS report: http://www.msnbc.com/local/kxas/9238.asp (c)1997 David W.Rogers
Rodney Perkins / Forrest Jackson on "Chen Tao"
"CESNUR's Watch Page of Chen Tao - God's Salvation Church," is the title of a webpate created by Rodney Perkins and Forrest Jackson on the CESNUR site. The complete text of their URL follows: -- U.S. and international media are reporting disturbing news about a Taiwanese new religious movement currently headquartered in Garland (Texas). It is referred as "a Taiwanese UFO cult". Leading U.S. anti-cultists are suggesting that it is a particularly dangerous cult and may be organizing a mass suicide for the end of March. 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 largely based on information supplied by them (from an article they are preparing) and can be quoted only by mentioning Jackson and Perkins as source. It is also based on documents on Taiwanese new religious movements in the archives of CESNUR and the collection of Dr. Massimo Introvigne. CESNUR will keep a watch on the Chen Tao situation and plans to obtain more documents 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 is a 42-year old Taiwanese national named Hon-Ming Chen who is, according to the media, a former professor of sociology. He has claimed that God will appear in his body in Garland, Texas, on 31 March, 1998 at 10:00 AM. God will personally appear on TV (the movement advises to check Channel 18) six days before March 31. Chen says that he will perform miracles to prove his divine power, including bilocation and xenoglossia (being able to speak in foreign tongues -- he currently speaks only Chinese -- 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 says:"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 emphatically denies that it is preparing a mass suicide for March 31. If God does not manifest itself in the body of Chen, followers will simply return to Taiwan. What will really happen after March 31 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, California, 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.
The Importance of Dates in Cult Thinking
Chen Tao keeps mentioning March 31 as the date of an important event. "After March 31, everything will become clear," cult member Richard Liu told the Gary Post-Tribune on January 9 during a Lake Michigan blessing ritual along Lake Street Beach in Gary, Indiana. And Hon-Ming Chen, the cult's 42-year-old leader, also a Taiwanese national (as are all cult members), has said through an interpreter in Garland, Texas that God will return to Earth on March 31. So this date is pretty clear in everyone's mind. Now those of us still living in reality know that nothing supernatural is going to happen on March 31. It's just gonna be another day in the life of Everyman and Everywoman. But the media will be parked outside the homes of the Chen Tao cult in Garland and sparks are gonna fly. Media sparks. Pigs aint gonna fly, and Leader Chen aint gonna fly, and God in His Glory sure as hell aint gonna put in apperance in a flinty Dallas suburb (She's got more important things to worry about, like who's gonna win the Super Bowl next year!) But listen to this, you guys out there in the uncaring, supercilious, supercynical media: a few days after the March 25 Heaven's Gate "event," Larry King on CNN was interviewing two fellows named Alex Fleet and Robert Watkins -- two employees of Rancho
Car Wash in Rancho Santa Fe in California where the event "transpired" -- who had befriended some of the HG cult members. Here is some of the conversation, from the TV transcript:_________Larry asked if the Heaven Gaters had been talking a lot about the Hale-Boggs comet. Alex Fleet replied: "Yes, they did. They had been talking about that weeks upon weeks, till
they actually gave us literature on it. They had been talking about how
there might be a ship with the comet, and of course I've got an open
mind to everything, so I listened to them. I didn't know whether I
believed them, but I listened to them. And again they did mention that
a few times, and they were very afraid of what this was gonna bring.
They kept talking about March 25 was the day that it will be closest to
"They mentioned that date?"_____
"They did mention that date on numerous occasions, and every time they
came in, I said: "Well, March 25 is getting closer and closer."_____March 31 is getting closer and closer. What are you going to do about it?
MSNBC report on "Chen Tao"
"Taiwanese wait for God in Texas; Faithful expect
in March" reads the headline above Alan Boyle's report for MSNBC. The text reads: Taiwanese religious group that believes God will come to Texas on March 31 is sparking controversy from Los Angeles to Dallas. Members of God’s Salvation Church have flocked to Garland, Texas, with the expectation that God will take over the body of their leader. In California, church members were involved in a custody squabble involving a teen-age girl.
SOME NEWS REPORTS have cast God's Salvation Church as a mass-suicide cult in the making, an echo of last spring's Rancho Santa Fe tragedy involving the deaths of 40 Heaven's Gate believers. In an interview with KXAS-TV in Dallas, church leader Hon-Ming Chen said his group didn't believe in suicide but was concerned about an apocalypse of biblical proportions.
"People worry about our mass suicide," he said through an interpreter Dec. 23. “B"But we are really worried about people's mass suicide when the great tribulation happens." With the approach of the new millennium, apocalyptic religious groups like God’s Salvation Church cite scriptures and revelations to support their view that the end of the world is approaching. The Heaven’s Gate believers thought that by “shedding their containers,” they could ascend to a higher plane of existence and escape the coming era of cosmic recycling.
Chen says that God will be reincarnated as a man at 11 a.m. ET on March 31 at his modest home in Garland, a Dallas suburb of 140,000. He said the divine arrival would be heralded by turbulent weather, heavenly writings, fast-speeding aircraft — and a nationwide television commercial on Channel 18.
Chen, who chose to move to Garland because it sounds like “God Land,” said he would put his life in the hands of his 150 to 200 followers if the prophecy was not fulfilled. Hon Ming Chen believes God will descend upon his home March 31 and the world will go through a time of tribulation in 1999.
Contrary to news reports in Taiwan, the group does not plan to stage a mass suicide if God fails to show, said Yu-Cheng Lo, 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 the Reuter news service. “T"They have return [airplane] tickets home." Chen's beliefs, like the philosophy of Heaven's Gate, are shot through with references to Christianity and Buddhism as well as flying saucers. He predicts that the world will be plunged into nuclear war in 1999.
The days of Sodom must take place in the east Asia, which will happen with the suffering of nuclear war, Chen Tao declared in a newspaper advertisement printed in Vancouver, B.C. “A"All of these will happen before the last 6 months of 1999."
Some believers have moved to Garland from San Dimas, a Los Angeles suburb where the group operated a church. On Dec. 22, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies went to an apartment building adjacent to the church to investigate a possible kidnapping involving a 16-year-old girl.
Authorities asked several church members to come out of the building. Deputies recognized the girl, identified as Nan Hwa Chiang, and took her away, according to a statement from the sheriff’s department. She was put in the custody of her mother.
Sources at the sheriff’s department said the girl’s father, a church member, had recently died of cancer. It was apparently the father’s wish that the girl remain with her uncle, also a church member, but the mother wanted the girl to stay with her and perhaps return to Taiwan, one source told MSNBC on condition of anonymity.
No arrests were made, the sheriff's department said.
The arrival of church members 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.
The first thing we know from scripture is no man knows the time the Lord is going to return,” Garland Mayor James Ratliff said. “OOur police department has been put aware, and we don't want them to endanger anyone, including themselves." -- (c)1997 MSNBC