Religious movement organizations and the formation of global denominations (completed)

Weishan Huang

This project offers a compelling ethnographic account of three Chinese religions: a trans-denominational ethnic Chinese Christian organization founded in New York by a Hongkongese pastor; the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassion Relief Foundation, a humanitarian and global Buddhist movement organization founded by a Taiwanese Buddhist nun; and the Falun Dafa (Falun Gong), the qui-qong Taoist/Buddhist syncretic movement, which, after its persecution by the Chinese government, has established its global headquarters in New York. All three are highly innovative transnational religious movements, founded and directed by charismatic leaders. All 3 movements have been able to expand dynamically by inserting themselves within immigrant Chinese diasporic communities and by responding creatively to the challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing processes of globalization.

My research finds that the newly formed global denominations, Tzuchi Zhongmen and Falun Dafa, generate sentiments of pride and satisfaction for immigrants, enabling them to apply the movement’s beliefs and values to their lives. These faith-based immigrants do not tend to assimilate or integrate with others but rather distinguish themselves as humanitarian actors or cultivators who live with other diverse immigrants in their neighborhoods and communities.

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