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The Taiping Rebellion was a big upheaval in 19th-century China, lasting about 14 years from 1850 to 1864. It messed up 17 provinces and caused around 20 million deaths, seriously shaking up the Qing dynasty.

The person responsible for this was Hong Xiuquan, from a rural family, who always aimed to become a scholar. His folks sacrificed a lot for his education, and he became quite good at memorizing classic Chinese texts. One day in Guangzhou, he heard an American missionary talking about Christianity and got a pamphlet about it. Although he initially didn’t think much of it, that encounter changed his life.

After failing the exams multiple times, Hong had a breakdown and had visions of heaven. In these visions, he met a heavenly family, whom he believed was his celestial family. This family included his celestial father, with a golden beard and a magic sword, and an older brother. They asked him to help get rid of demons in China. Even though Hong forgot about these visions at first, after failing the Imperial Exam for the fourth time, he looked at the missionary pamphlets again.

He realized that Jesus Christ, who was mentioned in the pamphlets, was the older brother he had seen in his vision, making him the son of God. So, Hong started gathering followers and building his religion, creating his own version of the Bible. Many folks who were upset with the weak Qing dynasty joined him. Hong, believing he was on a mission from God, wanted to remove foreign influences from China and make a heavenly kingdom on Earth.

In Taiping Christianity, they didn’t focus much on being kind, forgiving, or finding redemption like in the New Testament. Instead, they followed the strict rules of the Old Testament God, who wanted people to worship and obey him. They banned things like prostitution, foot-binding, slavery, opium, cheating on your partner, gambling, and using tobacco and alcohol.

Their army was very organized, with clear rules for soldiers in camp and marching. They promised a big reward to those who followed these rules. Zeng Guofan, a military leader, was surprised when nearly 100,000 Taiping followers chose to die rather than surrender after Nanjing was captured.

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