Last year members of the Almighty God sect savagely attacked a customer in a McDonald’s in northeast China after she refused to give them her cell phone number. Formerly known as Eastern Lightning, the Almighty God sect has emerged as one of the most active cults in China.
The incident, which garnered worldwide media attention, highlighted the problem of cults in China today. It also lent credence to the official Chinese position that religious groups not under the supervision of the state pose a danger to society. (Image is an anti-Almighty God sect poster.)
In the latest issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, Tony Lambert points to numerous examples in Chinese history that also lend support to this assumption. The Taiping Rebellion in the mid-1800s is but one example in a long litany of religiously motivated political movements that have wreaked havoc through the centuries. Dozens of new quasi-Christian groups have sprung up in China during the past three decades as rapid church growth has outstripped the supply of qualified leaders, leaving the church vulnerable to heresies and cults.
In the case of the murder at McDonald’s, officials were quick to take action against the attackers and have since launched a crackdown on the sect nationwide.
Since this particular cult has been ruthless in its attacks on unregistered churches in China, the current government crackdown comes as somewhat of a relief to China’s Christians. But it is a double-edged sword. Find out why – and learn how the church in China is dealing with the threat of cults – in the Spring 2015 issue of ChinaSource Quarterly, where we take an in-depth look at cults in China.
Image Credit: China Hope Live
Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Prior to assuming his current position, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding US director of China Ministries International, and from 1985 to... View Full Bio