The recent destruction of Taiwan Civil Government headquarters by authorities of the exiled Republic of China, purportedly for a violation of a hillside drainage law, brings to mind the ROC demolition of a Mount Zion church in the 1980s.
The Grace of Jesus Christ Crusade and New Testament Church, a small Christian sect, believes a mountain in Taiwan, which they have named Mount Zion, is the earthly home of God. The true believers acquired land in the mountains outside Kaohsiung in 1979 after a vision of prophet Elijah Hong that the hillside was the Lord’s house as prophesied in the Bible. They built a road, dug a lake, planted fields and orchards, and built homes and a church. Although the small group spent most of their time on the mountain building their community they attracted unwelcome attention from ROC political spies under dictator Chiang Ching-kuo. The church members often dressed alike, enjoyed waving the church flag, and entertained foreign visitors which signaled to Chiang’s authoritarian government the group was political in nature.
A church brochure explains what happened when the visitors came to Mount Zion: “Christians began to come on pilgrimage from all parts of the world. Unexpectedly, this movement caused the ruling authorities (the Chiang dynasty and the Kuomintang) to become paranoid, resulting in a series of terrible persecution of Christians on Mount Zion.”
Prophet Hong faced “the attacks of the Kuomintang regime, which used their party, military, police, intelligence, and media to carry out their persecution.”
Chiang’s security forces evicted the church members from their homes and set up roadblocks and checkpoints to prevent their return. Bulldozers and wrecking equipment were sent in to demolish the structures including the house of worship and a sacred prayer tower. After the community was driven from their homes and the church demolished the harried group moved to a nearby riverbed and camped along the river for several years, suffering from floods and other hardships. In 1985, the ROC arrived at the river encampment and demolished a shanty church building erected by the homeless Christians.
The New Testament Church was not able to return to Mount Zion for seven years, until after the end of martial law. Although the church was not political when it was formed, despite misconception of Chaing Ching-kuo’s police, it was heavily politicized by the destruction of their sanctuary.
The July 2 destruction of the new TCG headquarters building and the July 23 demolition of their existing headquarters, along with the high bail group members have posted for the freedom of Roger and Julian Lin, have severely stained the resources of the group. While the Lins have a fraud trial to worry about, group members now must come up with a new home for Taiwan Civil Government.
TCG was founded in 2008 for the purpose of ridding Taiwan of the exiled Republic of China government. The group seeks the assistance of the United States to purge Taiwan of ROC control. That goal has pitted the advocacy group against the ROC in a way few other organizations has and as a consequence is closely monitored.
Prosecutors who obtained the demolition orders are no doubt hoping they have inflicted a deadly blow to TCG. However, adversity sometimes causes growth, and like the legendary phoenix rising from ashes of former self, TCG could emerge stronger from its battle with the ROC. In the case of Mount Zion, the prophet never gave up and now the New Testament Church also has a vacation island in the Pacific they have named Eden. The church on the mountain has been rebuilt and there is a museum dedicated to the church’s battle with the Kuomintang.