December 24, 1997 in Nation/World

Taiwanese Cult Off To Find God In Texas, But Has No Plans To Stay

Amanda Covarrubias Associated Press
 

A family of four wearing white emerged from the God’s Salvation Church on Tuesday, saying they were headed for Texas to join fellow congregants waiting for God to appear so they could board a spaceship.

About 140 other followers of the Taiwan-based church - also dressed in white and wearing sunglasses and white cowboy hats - left earlier this week for Garland, Texas, for what they expect to be a March 31 arrival of God.

Although its practices seem similar to the Heaven’s Gate cult, right down to the uniforms and sneakers that followers wear, God’s Salvation members said they have no plans to kill themselves.

“We don’t die,” Pi Feng Chiang, mother of the family of four, said in halting English. “We believe God. God like life.”

Thirty-nine members of Heaven’s Gate in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., dressed in black and wearing Nike sneakers, killed themselves last March by drinking a concoction of alcohol and pills.

Sheriff’s detectives, who investigated a Taiwanese woman’s claim that her teenage daughter was kidnapped by the cult, said they did not believe God’s Salvation followers would kill themselves.

The girl had been staying with her uncle, a member of the cult, but her mother wanted her back after the girl’s father died last week of cancer, Deputy Joe Lomonaco said. She was reunited with her mother in Taiwan on Monday.

In Garland, meanwhile, dozens of Taiwanese families have moved into the quiet, middle-class suburb of Dallas of about 140,000 residents.

Taiwanese media reports last week said the group’s leader, Hon-Ming Chen, was encouraging newcomers to kill themselves so their bodies could be picked up by flying saucers.

Chen told reporters Tuesday that he had no such plans.

“There isn’t any danger,” he said.


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