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Global Spread

25-125 | Tuesday, 9 a.m. | 137
Session Chair: David William Kim

David William Kim

A Chinese New Religious Movement in Modern Korea

The East Asian country of Korea witnessed the emergence of foreign new religious movements in the middle-20th century. The Japanese Soka Gakkai was introduced in the 1970s, but Yiguandao of the Republic of China (1912-1949) was transmitted into the Korean peninsula in the 1940s. The pre-communist new religion that has a syncretic perspective ideologically pursued the ethical and philosophical principles of Confucianism, self-cultivation practices of Taoism, moral teachings of Buddhism, and ancestral worship tradition. The historical figures of Dukbuk Lee, Sujeun Jang, Buckdang Kim and Eunsun Kim individually performed the pioneering work of the ‘Unborn Ancient Mother (Wusheng Laomu)’ movement in the socio-politically insecure Korea that was under the initial conflict of the Cold War between democracy and communism. Nevertheless, the International Moral Association (IMA) was established by the leadership of Buckdang Kim in 1940-60s and became the most successful organization of the Chinese new religion, with 1,300,000 memberships in the 21st century. Then, who was the founder Buckdang Kim (1914-1991)? How did they survive in the post-Korean War society? What were the unique teachings of the Korean Yiguandao? This paper will not only explore the cultural change of Yiguandao in Modern Korea, but also analyse the social impact of the IMA in terms of morality reflected in the creeds of Doduck-Saejae, Jilli-Hawmin, Gujung-Saedo, Silchun-Kanglun, and Kuksi-Suneung.

Edward Irons

Yiguandao in the 21st Century: A Chinese Religion Adapts to a Globalised World

Yiguandao is in many ways a prototypical modern Chinese religion. It is syncretic, combining elements borrowed from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. It has always utilised the available routes offered by surging capitalism to expand, both in China in the 1930s and 1940s and in Taiwan from the 1960s. And it has remained largely within the Chinese cultural nexus, appealing in particular to Chinese communities in southeast Asia and the Americas. On the one hand Yiguandao and related groups have expanded easily from their bases in Taiwan to new locations of Chinese investment. On the other hand many have run into issues of cultural adaptation in many host countries, such as Australia and the US. This paper asks how such a distinctly Chinese religion can grow internationally in the current era. The paper uses interviews with Yiguandao senior leaders to describe the current spread of the religion from the perspective of globalisation theory.

Midori Horiuchi

A Unique Expression of Doctrine: The Case of the Tenrikyo Congo Brazzaville Church

Tenrikyo came into existence on 1838, when God the Parent was revealed through Oyasama. Then it has spread both throughout Japan and to other countries. By the chance visit of Shozen Nakayama, Head of Tenrikyo, to Brazzaville in 1960, mission work was started there in 1963. For the next two decades, Japanese missionaries engaged in missionary works there, however, the civil war made living there impossible. What followed was a period of absentee Japanese “professional” missionaries. During this period followers kept their faith and developed their expressions of doctrines in their own manner. For example, they joyfully sang simple words with gestures in chorus to feel Oyasama’s love. This appears to be the very way of understanding the doctrines based on and mixed with their own indigenous culture.Here I would like to consider the presence of “missionary” through cross-cultural contacts in the case of the Tenrikyo Congo Brazzaville Church.

Petra Tlcimukova

Religious Transmission to/within Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic – The case of Soka Gakkai International

In this paper I examine the process of religious transmission of a specific Buddhist movement – Soka Gakkai International – Czech Republic (SGI-CR). As my research shows the local presence of SGI, a global Buddhist organization of Japanese origin, can be well documented since the time of normalization Czechoslovakia. The movement grows slowly on the national level, yet its transnational ties has been of a rather significant influence since the beginning. The paper presents the outcomes of a long-term empirical research among SGI-CR members. Besides taking in account the memos of participatory observations and relevant documents, the narrative interviews were analysed in order to reconstruct the so far academically unexamined reality of this movement. In the presentation I will offer an overview of SGIʼs local history and will answer the question on how has been SGI transmitted to/within Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic.