Taiwanese sect says that God landed after all

No visible signs, but leader says ‘you yourself are God’

Reuters/March 31, 1998

GARLAND, Texas, March 31 -- A Taiwanese spiritual sect said God descended to Earth just outside Dallas on Tuesday, but dozens of observers who gathered for the big event saw and felt little evidence of such a miracle

THE SECT’S LEADER, Hon-Ming Chen, had predicted God would land at his home in the Dallas suburb of Garland, reproduce himself hundreds of times, shake hands with all those present and talk to each of them in their native languages.

When the moment of truth arrived at precisely 10 a.m. CT and there was little indication of any divine arrival, Chen had an explanation: God had entered the bodies and souls of all those present and anyone who didn’t see him was denying their identity as humans.


"The Kingdom of God has descended and God has already changed into human beings," Chen declared as about 30 of his Taiwanese followers looked on from under the shade of a nearby tree, dressed in white and yellow with white cowboy hats. "You yourself are God. You are human beings as well as God. This is a chance given to us to play the role of God."

As everyone was now God, they could answer their own questions in their own language and simply shake their right hands with their left, Chen said.

To push home the point, Chen added a subtle warning.

"If you think of yourselves as nothing more than a pile of bones and flesh, you are going to die, to perish in the Great Tribulation," he said.

The Great Tribulation, according to Chen and his 150 followers, is a series of natural and human-caused disasters such as floods and wars that will culminate in a nuclear holocaust destroying the world in late 1999.

The group moved to Garland from Taiwan late last year and believes God’s arrival is the first step in a plan to save hundreds of millions of people by whisking them away on flying saucers to a planet in another galaxy.


The sect has drawn widespread attention with its predictions of God’s arrival, and caused a stir in this quiet, conservative suburb. About 100 journalists, many of them from Taiwan, were on hand to witness God’s "arrival" Tuesday.

About two dozen neighbors joined in, too, but they witnessed little more than a media circus and a beautiful spring morning.

Chen, a 42-year-old former Taiwanese university professor known to his followers as Teacher Chen, said he and 10 of his followers are traveling Wednesday to Buffalo, N.Y., and that the rest of the group will likely follow next week to continue God’s work in the area of the Great Lakes.

That area is significant, Chen said, because God will gather the souls of the chosen people from around the world in the Great Lakes area to prepare them for the exodus to another planet in flying saucers.

Chen had said God would announce the divine descent to Earth in a television broadcast last week. The sect leader apologized when that did not happen, but on Tuesday he said that it was only a minor error and that God had instead declared his intentions in strong winds and unusual cloud patterns.

For those seeking salvation, Teacher Chen said they should repent their sins, stop eating meat and train themselves to see beyond the third dimension in which he said most humans live.


Anyone who continues to eat meat will face retribution from the spiritual world and may be visited in their dreams by animals asking what happened to their lives.

"If you often eat the buttocks of chicken, you will soon find you have a pain in your ass," he said.

With Chen and his followers now about to move on, some neighbors said they would miss the group that brought a bit of color to this otherwise tranquil neighborhood.

"They are very, very lovely people trying to reach an understanding about life," said Joyce Carr, adding that the sect members often helped her 87-year-old mother cross the road when they saw her out walking.

"Live and let live, I say. I am much more offended by some of the very radical fundamentalist groups who are out there trying to make money with their predictions," Carr said.

There had been concerns the sect members might kill themselves if God did not show up, much like the Heaven’s Gate believers who committed mass suicide in San Diego last year. The Heaven’s Gate adherents believed they would ride to heaven on a spacecraft following in the wake of the Comet Hale-Bopp.

But Chen and his followers insisted suicide was not an option for them.

Lt. Don Martin of the Garland police department said on Tuesday that the city’s police chiefs were no longer worried about a mass suicide on their turf, and that they had enjoyed the challenge of keeping an eye on the sect and the scores of journalists who flocked here to see them.

"It has been quite strange, to say the least," he said.


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