There are about five million followers of “Quannengshen”, a heretic sect with strong violent tendencies, across China, with the central Henan province especially a hotbed, said Li Anping, deputy secretary general of the China Anti-Cult Association (CACA), giving a very rough estimate.
Cult issues have come into the spotlight in the country again after a violent incident last week in Shandong province which saw a 37-year-old mother being bashed to death at a busy McDonald’s restaurant.
The attack was said to have been carried out by six members of the Quannengshen, which translates to “almighty god”, just because the woman refused to give them her phone number, according to state news agency Xinhua.
“It’s a typical case that shows the evilness of Quannengshen,” Li told EJ Insight in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The believers are required by the doctrinaires to beat anyone who hinders their missionary work.”
Quannengshen is currently one of the most harmful heretic sects in China, Li said, adding that, apart from relatively undeveloped regions in central China, the group has also penetrated into coastal areas like Shanghai and Guangdong, and even Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Heilongjiang-born Zhao Weishan created the Quannengshen in the 1990s. Originally taking reference from the Bible, he is said to have intentionally misinterpreted the holy book, claiming that god has become a Chinese woman to save people in the country who are ruled by Satan.
“They pretend to be normal Christians when they first meet their targets, but after building up closer relationship with the targeted persons, they will start brainwashing them with doctrines of Quannengshen,” Li said.
Wang Yusheng, CACA deputy chairman, was quoted as saying in a Wednesday Beijing Times report that there are two common features in cults that spread in China in the past 20 years. One, they use the cover of legitimate religions or traditional Chinese culture; two, they use brainwashing measures to control the believers.
In this case, the Quannengshen requires complete obedience and seeks oblation from followers. It bluffs them that misfortune will fall upon those who don’t believe in Quannengshen.
Besides the “membership fee” of 2,000 yuan (US$320) per person, the “priests” will sell so-called “holy” stuff to the followers at high prices and tell them that the more money they give to Quannengshen, the more “god’s grace” they can get.
Wang said the majority of the Quannengshen believers are under-educated women, of around 50 years in age, who have experienced rough lives and lack of care. Given the tough lives they led, they are more vulnerable to mental manipulation.
On Tuesday, the CACA unveiled on its website a list of cults that are still active in China, highlighting 11 heretic sects including Falun Gong and Quannengshen. However, what’s interesting is that Falun Gong is not on the list of 14 major cults identified by certain documents which are said to be from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party of China, according to earlier media reports.
Li said the authenticity of the purported government list is in doubt, saying the source of the documents is unclear and lack credibility.
Cults are like viruses which have the ability to evolve to cover up their evilness, Wang said, stressing that the war against heretic sects is a protracted one in China.
People from Quannengshen’s Hong Kong branch were not available for comment.
Related story: Ten ‘Quannengshen’ followers sent to prison in China
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