Chen Tao

Chen Tao has appeared in news sources as "God’s Salvation Church," "God and Buddha Salvation Foundation," and "God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Foundation." Its Chinese name (zhendao in the Pinyin system, jun dao in English phonetics) means "True" or "Right Way."

Though it has become famous internationally by traveling to the US, its history long predates its US residency. For most of its existence the group had been headquartered in urban southern Taiwan. It began in the early 1950s as the Association for Research on Soul Light, a "client cult" (cf. Stark and Bainbridge 1987:28-9) with a relatively loosely connected clientele of several hundred academics and white-collar professionals. Clients learned how to detect and quantify their "soul light" energy using machines, and then increase spiritual energy and physical longevity using techniques of meditation and exercise.

The current prophetic leader of Chen Tao, Hon-Ming Chen, joined the Association in the early 1990s. He was then an associate professor of social science employed by the Chiayi Pharmaceutical College of Tainan, southern Taiwan. News reports and member statements concur that "Master" or "Teacher" Chen had for much of his life experienced visions of golden balls of light, which perplexed him until he found an explanation for them within Chen Tao—that is, as evidence of his spiritual advancement and ability to communicate with God, the Heavenly Father.

Chen began to get messages from Heaven (in keeping with a Chen Tao and general Chinese convention, I capitalize Heaven to convey its interchangeability with the Supreme Being) that catapulted him into leadership, transformed the group into Chen Tao, and culminated in the overseas mission which brought the group to the world’s attention.

In 1995, he made known the first of a series of divine communications: the Kingdom of God would descend on the group’s headquarters in Peipu village, Hsin-Chu county, on 22 February, 1995 (God’s Descending; Perkins and Jackson 1998). Chen reported that the end of the present world cycle was imminent. (Chen uses the term "world," but I substitute the more awkward "world cycle" to convey the cyclicity he writes of. The "end of the world" has a more linear and final connotation that is ultimately misleading.) The Kingdom of God would soon descend on North America, the continent that has in each world-cycle been the site of God’s (re)creation and salvation of humanity (God’s Descending, Arrival of God). Chen was instructed to found the majority of seven churches (a theme also found in the biblical Book of Revelation) in North America. He set up headquarters in San Dimas, California in late 1995, Garland, Texas in March of 1997, and, finally, Lockport, New York in May 1998, each time being joined by the rest of Chen Tao – 160 parents, grandparents, children, and single young adults at peak membership - some months later. In Texas, Chen Tao occupied around 20 houses in an upper-middle class residential section of Garland, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Many members were well-paid professionals in Taiwan (doctors, engineers), with at least three being genuinely wealthy.

Following a pair of ambiguous appearances of God at Chen-convened press conferences – a TV theophany on 25 March, 1998 and one scheduled for plain-sight viewing on 31 March - Chen moved to Lockport, NY and media interest vanished abruptly. Though most members returned to Taiwan within two months of the last press conference, a core of around two dozen moved to upstate New York state to await the End-Times. They have since created a website and opened a branch office in Brooklyn, as you will discover if you continue here or link to the group's website.