Beijing, July 27 (IANS) Police in China’s Zhejiang province have detained 18 people in connection with their involvement with “The Church of Almighty God” cult.
The Church of Almighty God known in Chinese as “Quannengshen”, grabbed national headlines in 2014 with viral videos showing five of its members beating a woman to death at a McDonald’s outlet in Zhaoyuan city, condemning her as an “evil spirit” after she refused to give them her mobile phone number for recruitment purposes, reports Xinhua news agency.
First appearing in the 1990s in Henan province, Quannengshen claims that Jesus Christ has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, who is the wife of the cult’s founder Zhao Weishan, also known as Xu Wenshan.
The couple fled to the US in September 2000.
Dong Jianfeng, a police officer from Changxing county, on Wednesday said most of the detained members showed signs of depression.
“Some of them are divorced and do not seem to know how to vent their suppressed emotions,” Dong said.
According to initial investigations, the cult’s financial sources mainly came from “donations” from its members.
The higher the donation, the more rights a member obtains.
“Every member is willing to donate their money, and the amounts ranged from 10,000 yuan ($1,480) to tens of thousands of yuan,” Dong said.
“The cult’s ‘leaders’ impose spiritual control over the members…They were told that as long as they gave donations, the Almighty God would keep their illness at bay.”
China’s crackdown on the cult predates the McDonald’s murder, reports the BBC.
There were a string of arrests in 2012 in Qinghhai and Zhejiang where nearly 100 members were sentenced to prison terms, including several senior members.
In 2014, more people were arrested in Hubei and Xinjiang.
In August 2016, police in Anhui detained 36 members accused of creating and spreading video content for the cult.