BEIJING (AP) - 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.
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.
detentions come ahead of Friday, Dec. 21 - a date some say the Mayans
prophesized would be the end of the world and which was the subject of
the apocalyptic movie "2012."
Those detained are reported to be
members of the group Almighty God, which is also called Eastern
Lightning, after a phrase from the Bible's Book of Matthew. 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.
society has been in tumult as decades of rapid free-market economic
growth discredit communist ideology, loosen social controls and pull
hundreds of millions from the countryside to the cities. Into the
spiritual void have rushed traditional Buddhist groups and Daoist
practices, as well as evangelical Christian churches and other spiritual
groups, some with unorthodox and apocalyptic visions.
Lightning first appeared around 20 years ago, and the official Xinhua
News Agency said that its members had "recently latched on to the Mayan
doomsday prophesy to predict that the sun will not shine and electricity
will not work for three days beginning on Dec. 21."
notice on the web site of Qinghai provincial government said local
police are waging a "severe crackdown" on the group described as a cult
with "strong political penchants." The government urged the public to
inform the police of any illegal propaganda, gathering and preaching by
The CCTV report called the group a cult and accused it
of attacking the party and the government, though it did not give any
The state-run Huashang website last week, citing local
authorities, reported that the group is urging followers to "exterminate
the great red dragon" - a reference to the Communist Party - "and found
a country under the rule of Almighty God."