But Dhammakaya has fierce opponents both within the Buddhist establishment and outside it.
Critics denounce it as a cult that peddles wacky theology, and warn that it misleads wealthy urbanites into thinking that they can purchase religious merit. (The most serious of the several allegations against PhraDhammachayo relates to a case in which an acolyte funded a donation with cash embezzled from a credit union.)
Thailand's ruling junta worries that the movement's leaders are sympathetic to the cause of Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist former prime minister toppled in 2006 whose lingering influence the generals and their backers are determined to stamp out.
Last year the junta abandoned several attempts to drag PhraDhammachayo out for questioning, fearful of the outrage that might follow were soldiers to be pictured manhandling monks.
The latest effort looks more concerted.
It may not be a coincidence that the operation began shortly after the installation of a new Supreme Patriarch (Thai Buddhism's most senior monk).
That job is usually filled according to a strict hierarchy but had been held open for several years after conservative clergy refused to endorse the expected successor—in part because of worries that he was too close to Dhammakaya.
The junta took the unusual step of asking King Vajiralongkorn, who succeeded his father in December, to solve that dispute; he anointed a less controversial alternative, SomdetPhraMahaMuniwong, who hails from the smaller and more orthodox of Thailand's two main Buddhist orders.
Monks at the Dhammakaya temple say that they have not seen their former abbot for months.
They say the real aim of the raid is to shut the entire temple down.
The generals may yet decide to back away from the fight, as they have done previously.
They could perhaps claim that the searches they have already conducted are enough to declare the operation complete.
That might look like a defeat, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Dhammakaya movement is running out of powerful friends.
With the royal succession—which some had feared would be tumultuous—safely behind it, Thailand's conservative establishment is reasserting itself, in religion as in politics.