Hoa Hao Buddhism was created in 1939 when Vietnam was still a French colony. French authorities did everything they could to oppress and prevent Prophet Huynh Phu So from preaching His doctrine.
After the Japanese troops’ invasion of Indochina, Japanese officials expressed their desire to help the Vietnamese nationalist and religious groups to reclaim their Independence from the French. In 1942, they helped liberate Prophet Huynh from Bac Lieu where He was being placed under administrative surveillance by the French, and took Him to Saigon.
Prophet Huynh was grateful for His liberation, but this did not prevent Him from incessantly asking the Japanese government to grant full independence to Vietnam.
Starting in 1945, the Hoa Hao Buddhist community actively organized a guerrilla resistance war against the French, then later against the Communist Viet Minh when they began to implement a totalitarian communist regime in Vietnam.
Following the signing of the Geneva Agreement in 1954, the Hoa Hao Buddhist community underwent another period of repression under the dictatorial regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem.
Only after the overthrow of President Diem on November 1st, 1963 did the Hoa Hao Buddhists have a chance to re-organize themselves and elect new Boards of Administrators.
The North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam in 1975 ushered in another dark period of persecution. Together with other religions, Hoa Hao Buddhist followers again have to face systematic tactics aimed at religious annihilation including requisition of Church facilities and mass arrest of Hoa Hao leaders.
All efforts of the Hoa Hao Buddhist Church are concentrated on the achievement of two main objectives: first, to propagate Hoa Hao Buddhist doctrine in and outside of the country; second, to carry out social work and come to the help of the poor.
The propagation of Hoa Hao Buddhist faith is considered a sacred mission to foster and promote virtues in society in order to reform mankind. The carrying out of social work serves the purpose of raising the standards of living of the people in line with the 20th century progress.
Over two millions of Hoa Hao Buddhist followers (before 1-1-1966) practicing Buddhism at home not only do their best to improve themselves physically and spiritually, but they also contribute greatly to the development of the agricultural economy of their country. Moreover, when required, the Hoa Hao Buddhist followers are always ready to sacrifice their lives to defend the Fatherland. The 18th of the 5th lunar month of 1939 in Vietnam is the anniversary of Hoa Hao Buddhism. On this day, an important ceremony is held at the Hoa Hao Holy Land and throughout the Mekong Delta area. The main features of Hoa Hao Buddhism are observed on this occasion.