Victor Hugo, Churchill, Lenin, Jefferson, Shakespeare and the cathedral of kitsch
Deep in the Vinh Tuong District in Southern Vietnam is to be found perhaps the most colourful cathedral in the world.
It is the Cao Đài temple in Tay Ninh and is the place of worship of the Cao Đài, a modern syncretistic, monotheistic religion, officially established in the city of Tây Ninh, southern Vietnam in 1926.
On the Cao Đài’s official website they state what they are all about
The noble effort of CaoDai is to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being, whatever our minor differences, in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world. CaoDai does not seek to create a gray world, where all religions are exactly the same, only to create a more tolerant world, where all can see each other as sisters and brothers from a common divine source reaching out to a common divine destiny realizing peace within and without.
CaoDai is a universal faith with the principle that all religions have one same divine origin, which is God, or Allah, or the Tao, or the Nothingness, one same ethic based on LOVE and JUSTICE, and are just different manifestations of one same TRUTH.
This would seem to explain the reason behind their eclectic mixture of western figures and communist leaders they have adopted as their patron saints including Winston Churchill, Vladimir Lenin, Thomas Jefferson, William Shakespeare and Victor Hugo to name a few.
Cao means “high” and Đài means “dais” (as in a platform or altar raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it). Figuratively, it means that highest spiritual place where God reigns.
It is interesting to note that the word for God in Italian is Dio, in French it is Dieu, in Spanish it is Dios and in Latin it is Deus.