Taiwan gods out of control? Good or bad for Taiwan?

Did you hear the joke about the Taiwan guy who was speeding then ran the red light and was smashed to death? He was on his way to the temple to donate money to renew his car safety amulet. His friends said if only he had driven faster to the temple the temple God would have saved him.
My argument is that the increased focus on Temple related activities and superstition (my definition) related activities is not good for Taiwan. I base my opinion on the following….which I feel is increasing at an alarming rate.

Money donated to a large number of temples basically supports gangsters. Government involvement in temple activities basically helps promote gangster’s business opportunities.

With expanding temple presence in Taiwan….more and more people are involved which encourages even more people. Friends who used to not pay attention to temple activities now are traveling across Taiwan to walk along with the Gods. If my friends believe…then I must be wrong to ignore the Gods.

Every month friends are going to fortune tellers or “spirit cleansers” and encouraging their friends to do the same. One friend spends NT$20,000 a month.

This encouragement of “temple culture” is not healthy. More and more friends now talk about Matzu solving their problems and donate more and more money to make it so. Where does all this money go? My wife asked our local temple about their finances. Talk about a lack of transparency. At the temple near my wife’s home….during the God’s birthday every year the temple used to have people there to explain the SOP of praying…first this and then that…at least make the process seem important. Now the only people at the temple are collecting donations. They post a big advertisement about the future temple expansion to encourage more donations…well, the advertisement is old and fading. And money to feng shui experts? Wow. At my old company every time a boss moved to a new office the expert had to come. Then they would ask the expert to go to their house for another fee.

I lost one friend because she was adamant about using her fortune teller to solve my nightmares about my mother who passed away. This friend used this fortune teller for all sorts of family problems as this guy could do such things as travel back to their ancestrial home in China to talk to their long gone relatives. The fortune teller said if I gave my mother an expensive watch she would calm down and not bother me any more. Of course, he would bring the watch to her. I refused. My friend implied I was stupid for not wanting to solve this problem with this easy method. I do not list all of the other requests from this friend. This friend is highly educated with high paying job.

Every day my wife’s mother calls her to let my wife listen to a fortune teller on the radio talking about what to pay attention to the next day. My wife writes down the predictions and sends in LINE to family members. But when friends heard about this immediately 30 people wanted to be sent the information every day. Colors to wear. What zodiac sign will be lucky or unlucky. What activites to do or not to do. What previously was just fun….not seems a serious exercise in how to live their lives.

Now anytime something bad happens my wife and friends will talk about turning the luck around….of course, by giving money to some temple or some fortune teller.

The power of temples and “religious” groups is growing to a point that they are doing what they want with little control. Long processions everywhere with fireworks blazing away? (guy walking down street lost eyesight in an eye in Neihu when I lived there) Ruining the land near our house…but when we talk to a high ranking government official the response?..”well, no one likes to deal with these religious groups…not sure if you can find someone to want to be involved.” So much stuff.

In summary…during my 25 years here I have heard so much what I deem as nonsense or superstition that has not solved anyone’s problems. Yes, they may feel better and safer after spending their time and money but that is the problem. These people have turned from temple time being a little traditional and fun…to be downright necessary for them to live protected lives.

While in university I read a sociologist’s research about religion and superstition. Basically the research result focussed on the lessening “grip” or control of “religion” or superstition as a society become wealthier because people feel they do not need certain rituals (e.g. spreading chicken blood around your house to ward off evil). Seems the opposite is true in Taiwan.


I feel like it’s always been this way.


Simply put: gods aren’t real; however, many humans are fragile and mentally ill. Thus, we cannot deal with the reality of life. End of god argument.


Well as much as I hate stupid people (which let’s be honest is most people) that is just the easy way out. They need to think about this stuff when it comes to other people, including their children. The parents have a duty to raise the kid as best as they can and forcing religion in the kid’s psyche is just dumb however you try to slice it.

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My ex gf’s mother was pretty hardcore into the temple stuff. Fortune tellers, changing people’s names and what not. It was pretty amusing until it started going against me, things such as the fortune teller advising my ex gf not to get married until she was older… hmm i wonder why. :rofl:


Well ya…thats why today there is little excuse for such ignorance. Aside from perhaps psychological retardation. But it is rampant regardless (do i mean religion or retardation?). Its like a drug addiction. Unlike fake heroin and pcp which tends to kill you semi quick, religion is more like ethanol, nicotine, real heroin etc which you can maintain a habit for decades possibly without death. Get the wrong batch, or go too deep and BAM!

I wish the best to those afflicted with the constant addiction to religion and similar cults of acceptance (social media included). But its time to wake up and smell the roses. On all sides.


My in-laws are a bit too deep into it as well but I think that may have been happening for decades. Some people are anxious and fearful of life around them and are looking to be told how they can be safer.
For others it’s greed or looking for a way to feel better about an unexpected death of a loved one.
Whatever it is, these soothsayers and temple owners and religious organisations are usually making money out of it (look how much money and free labour those big Buddhist organization have …Although I heard some may have been washing money through them ).

It must also be noted there’s a social aspect in all this where they get together and make friends and visit temples in other places and feel part of a community. That’s why some are into it.

I dumped all religion by the time I was 14 and suspected it was a bunch of baloney by the time I was 11 or 12 (I had deep exposure to it also ). So I do wonder how people believe in this stuff especially in the modern age of science . I like to look at their cultural art and historical buildings though .

The specific problem I have with the temples (and my wife mentions this often as my in-laws are asked to donate money for this and that ) is that they don’t do anything good for the community as far as I can tell and they create a lot of pollution from burning ghost money and firecrackers.


Agree except for this part. From what I’ve seen it’s mostly confined to the older generation. I’ve given an anonymous survey to my students for years, and most of them ranged from atheist to vaguely ‘spiritual’.

Not religion, faith.

At some point science can’t explain everything and we have to believe it on faith.

Can we see quantum physics? We have to take scientist’s words for it. We can’t afford, nor can we own and operate instruments they use.

Before you think they are infallible, they are not. Fraud does happen. We catch them but they still happen.

And also stuff like purpose of life, origin of life, etc. are really outside the scope of science, and it becomes philosophy or metaphysics.

Science is stuff that can be proven and repeated and observed.

That and internet seems to perpetuate weird faiths, such as flat earth.

When they get older they can get sucked back in.
I think that’s what Flakman is alluding to. Older people get hit by life’s arrows more and it can be hard to make friends. One way to have friends is to hang out with temple people . I feel that is a major motivation for my in-laws although they are very superstitious also. It gives them a routine and some sense of belonging.

The LINE group stuff…Jeez…That’s painful and it seems to be a thing with older folks groups everywhere sharing garbage :grin:. Not that younger people don’t share garbage it’s just different garbage.

Yes, the older generation is very steeped in superstition of all sorts…but many in their 20s and 30s are going down the same path. Many younger people are lining up to get the chance to lay on the payment and let Matsu be carried above them…or have their kids sits in chairs carried along with a temple God.

That is why I think this is bad for Taiwan. Young people we know travel around to all sorts of temples looking for support for every problem or opportunity. Work overtime on the weekend? absolutely no way. Drive to Pingtung to go to a lucky temple? No problem as they do this all the time. And what type of volunteer work do some of my wife’s friends do to support Taiwan’s society? volunteering at a temple…while hearing from other volunteers how much the temple is raking in from donations. They have so many volunteers that there is in-fighting to see who can get a promotion to be a higher level volunteer.


Yes, there was recently a new observational experiment in the news.

The Buddhists do more volunteer work. They’re a minority though (people who overtly follow the tenets of Buddhism.)


Amazing what people will do for religion, there’s even one where people smear ashes on their forehead every year! Recommending what colour clothes to wear on a particular day is way down the list of crazy.

I believe in the color of clothes, usually when it is hot like today, I try to use white shirt or more soft colors to avoid the heat. When I’m riding a motorcycle, I try to use more bright colors to make people see me more easy in the traffic jam.

Woo, sorry, I got confused with the thread. :upside_down_face:


I knew of a Chinese Canadian fortune teller in his 30s that was making bank in Asia. All he had to do was walk around the place for 10 mins and give some pointers. He even has 2 assistants. :laughing: Obviously, dude was very good at hustling. No way a Canadian with his education would believe in this shit. He was giving people with anxiety hope. Not unlike the Church asking for donations to repent for sin.


Yes, there are. just as there are kids in the States excited to bear witness for Jesus- but how many? I think this younger generation are more interested in video games and texting than temples and gods.

There will be gods, from video games.

Rallies for various MMO deities…

Perhaps rallies for GLaDOS, complete with Yannick cake machines that promises cake but won’t deliver.

I think that’s what the churches in America are hoping for (they’ve pretty well given up in Europe, Canada, Australia, and NZ). Maybe for the last of us Boomers; ain’t gonna happen with the Millenials and Generation Z.
I think they’re wrong, both in the West and east Asia. It’s almost a sociological law that the richer and more developed a country becomes, the less religious it is. Taiwan is another example.

I’ve never observed the round Earth, and the Flat-Earthers have explanations for all the phenomena presented by scientists, just like YECers.

The older some people get the more they embrace it. It’s what makes them feel safe.