Studies in Religion Seminar: Prof. Massimo Introvigne
New Religious Movements and Anti-Cultism in Taiwan and the Tai Ji Men Case.
Prof. Massimo Introvigne | 1pm, 17 April, 2023
In China, since the Middle Ages, “xie jiao” (heterodox teachings) is used to indicate religious movements that conspire against the government and should be eradicated. In the last thirty years, official Chinese documents in English have consistently translated “xie jiao” as “cults” or “evil cults,” although even some Chinese scholars have objected that the translation, which supports claims that the problem of “cults” is the same in China and the West, is wrong and ignores the century-old Chinese tradition of repressing the “xie jiao.” While a significant body of literature exists about the fight against the “xie jiao” in Mainland China, much less studied are the campaigns against the “xie jiao” conducted by governments in Taiwan both during the Martial Law and the post-authoritarian period, and anti-cult controversies that affected Yiguandao, Soka Gakkai, and other Christian and Buddhist movements. The anti-xie jiao rhetoric still continues to have an effect on how the bureaucracy looks at certain new religious or spiritual movements, particularly when it comes to taxes. The 25-year-long legal and tax case of Tai Ji Men, a large qigong-based spiritual movement headquartered in Taipei, is a significant example of these persistent problems.
About the speaker
Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religions, and was until 2016 professor of Sociology of religions at Pontifical Salesian University in Turin. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), and the author of some 70 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in the field of sociology of religion. He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio. In 2011, he served as the Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and religious discrimination of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he was the chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.