An unusual spiritual sect has taken up residence in the city of Garland, near Dallas, Texas to await the arrival of God next March. The group's leader, Ho-Ming Chen, said he and his 150 or so followers, mostly recent arrivals from Taiwan, expect God to reincarnate in Chen's own body precisely at 10 a.m. on March 31.
Chen says that one of his two young sons is the reincarnation of Jesus.
News reports from Taiwan sparked fears that Chen's group might commit mass suicide like the "Heaven's Gate" group in southern California last March. One report translated the group's Chinese name -- apparently wrongly -- as "God Save the Flying Saucers."
However, an official of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston told reporters that a better translation of the group's name is "God's Salvation Church," and that the group is nothing like the "Heaven's Gate" group. If God does not show up as expected next March, said Yu-Cheng Lo, the members of the spiritual group will simply go home.
"There's no reason to be concerned that they would commit suicide," Lo told Reuters. "They have return (airplane) tickets home."
But Chen did conjure images of UFOs when he told reporters that, prior to God's arrival, there would be sightings of strange aircraft flying at miraculous speeds through the sky. There would be other signs and wonders as well, including strange weather. To top things off, Chen said, God himself would advertise his arrival over local television.
"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 through an interpreter.
The group, which includes a number of professional people and educators, has reportedly purchased 20 or more homes in the town of Garland and hopes to attract up to a million new followers before God's arrival.
The group is described as mixing the beliefs of Buddhism, Christianity and Daoism, but apparently does not require its members to believe anything in particular. However, most members are reportedly vegetarian and would consider committing suicide a "great crime."
"They are all friendly and reasonable," Lo told reporters. "Their life is very simple."
Chen was said to have started his group in San Dimas, California and then moved it recently to Garland, because the town's name means "God's Land."
Original file name: CNI - God to Arrive in TX.final
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.