A case study of the Phat Giao Hoa Hao* is based on research I completed during a two year tour in the heart of Hoa Hao country, the Mekong Delta Province of An Giang in the Republic of Viet Nam . Phat Giao (fat yow) means Buddhism and Hoa Hao (wa how) is the proper name for this little known sect that has exercised considerable influence on the politics of the Government of Viet Nam . The unprecedented growth of the sect to a current estimated three million believers in only 35 years attests to the vigor of the movement and the influence of the sects's founder Huynh Phu So (When Foo Show) during the very short period of his ministry from 1939 to his death in 1947 .
In conducting the research for this paper I interviewd hundreds of people both Hoa Hao and non-Hoa Hao and found them extremly informative in providing insights into the sect . They were exceptionally candid with me because they were assured that I would not mention them by name in any open publication . Therefore, to protect this trust few references will be made to specific comments by individuals, nor will a list of interviews be carried in the bibliography .
Although the Republic of Viet Nam practices a nominal brand of democracy, their politics sometimes get rather direct and personal as will become apparent in this paper . Therefore, to protect these many friends and sources their desire for anonymity will be respected .
Frisco W. Short
Colonel, United States Army
* This is the only place diacritical markings will be used in this paper . Although essential to pronounciation and meaning in Vietnamese they mean little when used in connection with English text .