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IRB: The Tian Dao (Yi Guan Dao, Yiguandao, Yi Guandao) sect and treatment of believers by the authorities [CHN32887.E] | - European Country of Origin Information Network - European Country of Origin Information Network

  • Quelle:
    IRB - Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
  • Titel:
    The Tian Dao (Yi Guan Dao, Yiguandao, Yi Guandao) sect and treatment of believers by the authorities [CHN32887.E]
  • Veröffentlichungsdatum:
    14. Oktober 1999
  • The Tian Dao (Yi Guan Dao, Yiguandao, Yi Guandao) sect and treatment of believers by the authorities [CHN32887.E] [ID 171890]
  • Länder:
Empfohlene Zitation:
IRB - Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: The Tian Dao (Yi Guan Dao, Yiguandao, Yi Guandao) sect and treatment of believers by the authorities [CHN32887.E], 14. Oktober 1999 (verfügbar auf
[] (Zugriff am 23. November 2017)

The Tian Dao (Yi Guan Dao, Yiguandao, Yi Guandao) sect and treatment of believers by the authorities [CHN32887.E]

The following is based on an 8 October 1999 telephone interview and correspondence with a professor at the department of religion in the University of Missouri in Columbia, who specializes in Chinese religion. Tian Dao (way of heaven) is also known as Yi Guan Dao (way of unity). The former name came to be more in use after the sect was banned in China after World War II.

A man named Zhang Tianran, who died in 1947, founded the sect in 1930. The sect is divided into branches, each branch being headed by a disciple, or a disciple of a disciple, of Zhang Tianran. Tian Dao temples are called Buddha halls. The Buddha hall (fotang) is the smallest organizational unit. A branch may comprise a dozen to several thousand Buddha halls. Branch leaders are called elders (quianren), and they have the right to ordain a group of functionaries called initiators (dianchuanshi). The main function of the initiators is to perform the initiation ritual. Below the initiators are the shrine masters (tanzhu).

The altar arrangement is standard in all Buddha halls: a picture of Zhang Tianran is displayed to the right of the altar, and a picture of his wife is displayed to the left. On the altar itself are displayed images of various deities, and in the centre is an oil lamp called the mother lamp (mudeng), which represents the Venerable Mother (laomu). The Venerable Mother is the supreme deity of Tian Dao.

Tian Dao is represented figuratively by followers as a hand, the palm of which is the Dao, the ultimate way of the cosmos, and the five fingers of which are other religions that stem from it: Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. Followers of the sect maintain that it is not a religion in the narrow sense, but that it represents the Dao, in which all specific religions are rooted. The sect is millenarian in outlook, and believes that only its initiates will survive the impending end of the world. The sect has an initiation ritual, which representatives bestow upon those whom they believe are ready for it. The ritual is called "bestowing the three treasures." Tian Dao leaders accept that Christians or followers of other religions can continue to practice their religions, even after being initiated into Tian Dao.

Corroborating information could not be found within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the professor, the first explicit proscription of Tian Dao by a Chinese government was in 1946, and the sect remains illegal. In Taiwan, the ban was lifted in 1987. In general there has been a relaxation in the Chinese government's attitude to religion since 1980, but Tian Dao, as a non-recognized "heterodox sect," has been excluded from this increased tolerance. The professor is not aware of any change in the Chinese government's attitude to Tian Dao in recent years.

An article in the Beijing publication Beijing Qiushi (16 Aug. 1999), dealing with the Chinese government's policies regarding "feudal superstition," summarizes various measures taken by the Communist government against Tian Dao (referred to in the article as the "Yiguandao society") in the 1940s and 1950s. The article states that the Yiguandao society had collaborated with the enemy during the war against Japan and had been engaged in "counterrevolutionary activities" (ibid.). The article concludes, "the ban on [the] Yiguandao society was one of the social achievements most widely hailed in the New China," adding that "feudal superstition" could undergo a resurgence (ibid.).

A 1 June 1999 article in the Japanese publication Tokyo Sentaku states that the Yiguandao society has undergone a revival in recent years despite having been banned, claiming two million followers, mainly in Sichuan. The article does not state whether the legal status of Yiguandao has changed (ibid.).

Specific information on the status of Tian Dao in Hong Kong could not be found among the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Beijing Qiushi [in Chinese]. 16 August 1999. Gong Yuzhi. "Gong Yuzhi: CPC Anti-Superstition History." (FBIS-CHI-1999-0920 16 Aug. 1999/WNC)

Professor, Department of Religion, University of Missouri, Columbia. 8 October 1999. Telephone interview and correspondence.

Tokyo Sentaku [in Japanese]. 1 June 1999. "Cult Groups Seen Shaking Party Leadership." (FBIS-CHI-1999-0614 1 June 1999/WNC)

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