The Falun Gong's new Tian Guo ("Heavenly Kingdom") Marching Band is currently making itself available for parades at every sort of Canadian cultural event. It is fascinating to me that this Falun Gong Band has a name eerily reminiscent of the Taiping Tianguo ("Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace") which flourished in China from 1853-64, capital at Nanjing. At its peak the Taiping Rebellion forces occupied much of the central Yangzi valley area. and ruled over 30 million Chinese.
The leader of the Taipings, Hong Xiuquan, had a vision that he was the younger brother of Jesus and on this basis developed a revised version of Christianity with no Trinity and an additional "gospel" written by himself. Hong imposed and enforced his version of Christianity in the areas under his military control. Within the land that they controlled, the Taiping Heavenly Army established a theocratic and highly militarised rule. Hong preached that it was the mission of the Taiping Tianguo to rebel against the weak and corrupt Manchus so that China would not be forced under foreign rule by Western imperialists. The rebellion swung from one side to another, now a defeat, now a victory, now a defeat.
Mao Zedong viewed the Taipings as early heroic revolutionaries against a corrupt feudal system.
Intriguing food for thought as to why the Falun Gong also identifies with a "Heavenly Kingdom" using the same Chinese characters as the Taipings used for their political rebellion in China.
Website of the Falun Gong Marching band: www.tianguoband.org