Beijing, China – Hundreds of members of a Chinese cult have been detained by police for promoting the Mayan claim that the world will end on Friday.
The group, known as “Almighty God” or “Eastern Lightning,” is a charismatic religious organization that strongly opposes the current Chinese regime. State-run entities claim that the group has been urging its followers to “exterminate the great red dragon” and “and found a country under the rule of Almighty God.”
According to reports, in recent weeks, members of Almighty God have been distributing information both in printed form and online to promote its belief that the world will end on December 21st.
“Dec. 21 is approaching, and on that day half of the world’s good people will die, and all evil people will die out,” one pamphlets reads. “[O]nly if you join the Almighty God movement can you avoid death and be saved.”
It also states that on Friday, and continuing for three days, there will be complete darkness upon the earth, and there will be no electricity.
The group, founded in the 1980′s, believes that Jesus Christ has already returned, and that He has come back in the form of a woman. The woman, who is stated to be Christ incarnate, purportedly lives in central China.
Bob Fu of the Texas-based organization China Aid confirmed to Christian News Network this afternoon that Almighty God is an actual organization in the country, and is without question a cult.
However, while he disagrees with the message of the group, he does not believe that it is the place of Chinese officials to arrest individuals because they oppose their views.
“This is a very complex issue,” he said. “The Chinese government is in a wrong place to determine what is a cult and what isn’t.”
He stated that those determinations should be left up the Body of Christ in China.
Fu also explained that the Almighty God cult has been known for using force both on Christians and against the Chinese government. He outlined that Christians have been brainwashed and even tortured for their beliefs.
“It has been well documented that this group has engaged in these types of activities,” he said. “To torture or to kidnap is a criminal offense, so that is justified. … This group has some real issues.”
He stated that while he would favor the group’s detainment or arrest if it was related to genuine criminal activity, if the Chinese government is only apprehending members because of their beliefs, then it could cause serious concerns for all Chinese citizens.
“If a group of citizens distributes their flyers on street, … that’s not a justified or legal [reason to arrest them],” Fu opined. “That should not be a justifiable cause to put someone in prison.”
He advised that a number of genuine Christians have already been arrested as a result of the government’s crackdown on the Almighty God group.
“The local police cannot distinguish who is with Almighty God is who is [with] the house church groups,” Fu explained. “We have already received reports that members of house churches have been arrested.”
“This could be used as a pretext to crack down on legitimate house churches,” he lamented.
Dennis Green of Life and Liberty Ministries near Richmond, Virginia agreed. He has been serving as a missionary to China for nearly the past decade.
“With [local Chinese officials] trying to decipher, they wouldn’t have a clue who is Christian and who is not,” Green said, who is familiar with the Almighty God group and attested to the ongoing persecution of Christians from both the Chinese government and the activist cult. “Those who are on the ground and actually work in China with the underground Church can tell you that persecution is at its highest level of the past 30 to 40 years.”
In China, religious groups may only worship in government-approved venues and must follow strict regulations or be subject to harassment, arrest and/or imprisonment.
Green said that while Almighty God may be targeted by police because of its hostility toward the government, no one may distribute literature without prior approval.
“You can’t just go out and leaflet on the street,” he said. “You can’t go out and do anything that’s not sanctioned by the government. … Any kind of religious expression or free speech — they clamp down on it.”
“[Chinese officials] don’t want any dissent,” Green advised. “If they let a group say things like that, then they’d have to let everyone else, including statements against the government.”