Remember that nitwit "prophet" from last year and his "God is gonna be on TV" moronic "prophecy?" Well, he's back......

Sunday, Mar. 21, 1999

By Barry Shlachter
Knight Ridder Newspapers

What does a cult leader do when his grand prophecies fall flat?

In the case of Chen Hon-ming of Taiwan, who predicted last year that God would appear on cable TV and then materialize in Chen's image on a lawn in Garland, Texas, he issues a sweeping new revelation and relocates to upstate New York.

But 12 months later, only 30 of his 160 followers are still with him. To make matters worse, two of Chen's closest lieutenants have dropped out of the Taiwanese UFO cult, as the news media dubbed his Way of Truth sect, which mixes Christianity and Buddhism with a belief in flying saucers.

Despite the setback, a spokesman said Chen stands by his prediction of a nuclear holocaust in Asia and Europe between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 while divine UFOs evacuate worthy believers to the safety of the Great Lakes region. Chen considers the region sacred.

"We have full belief and faith in God, in God's salvation," said the spokesman, Richard Liu, who confirmed that Chen still considers himself the reincarnation of Joseph, Jesus Christ's father.

Liu, 40, formerly an English professor in Taiwan, said the sect's remnants have settled comfortably in Lockport, N.Y., 30 miles south of Niagara Falls. The members' children are attending public schools, and the parents have become more involved in community affairs than they were in Garland, he said.

An official of the Chamber of Commerce in Lockport, a town of 29,000 noted as the starting point of the Erie Canal and the hometown of model Kim Alexis, said sect members have made hardly a ripple in the Rust Belt industrial city, which otherwise has few ethnic Chinese residents. As in Texas, the group released color snapshots of what appeared to be jet contrails in the sky and said they were left by God's UFOs.

But Chen has not taken the defection of his key followers lightly. In angry, open letters to President Clinton and Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui released last week, Chen accuses the sect's former No. 2 leader of trying to disrupt the group through lies, blackmail and insults.

The defector, Chiang Chin-hung, formerly a career official of Taiwan's Bureau of Investigation, called the allegations ridiculous.

Speaking through an interpreter from his Garland home, Chiang said he is planning to return soon to Taiwan.

"I and others just want to live a normal life without being bothered by the media," he said.

(c) 1999, Fort Worth Star-Telegram


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