Chinese police have detained more than 500 people from a fringe Christian group for spreading rumors about the world’s impending end, state media reported Tuesday.
That’s a lot of people.
In western China’s Qinghai province alone, police arrested more than 400 members from the religious cult group, state-run China Central Television said Tuesday.
Police seized leaflets, video discs, books and other apocalyptic materials in the recent arrests of more than 500 people across eight provinces and regions, from the prosperous east coast to less developed western China, state media reports said.
The group is called “Almighty God,” a.k.a. “Eastern Lightning,” “after a phrase from the Bible’s Book of Matthew,” according to AP.
Widely regarded as a heretical Christian sect, the group preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China. It has been accused of targeting Christians, kidnapping and beating them to force conversions.
The world is most likely not ending December 21, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it. Here’s a villager with his giant ball. Here’s a villager with his ugly boat. And here’s an inventor with an indestructible yellow ball. We’ll let you guess which two of three of these inventions is being self-hailed as “Noah’s Ark.”
UPDATE, 11:12 pm: More info about this group, via Blood and Treasure:
Almighty God/Eastern Lightning’s theology seems heavily Taiping-derived, with a third Jesus sent to bring a new dispensation. This time, Jesus is a lady and the Mayan long count prophecies filtered into China seem to have triggered the idea that the time for the final confrontation with the Big Red Dragon has come, or at least a recruitment effort based around this notion. Like other syncretic Christian cults in China, AG/EL recruit and fund through techniques adapted from multi level marketing companies. They also seem to operate using a classical terrorist cell structure.