Chinese protestant groups take aim at doomsday cult
Eastern Lightning and other heretic cults 'undermine social stability'
China’s state-sanctioned Protestant Church yesterday issued a resolution to fight cults, as top leaders met at the National Chinese Christian Congress in Beijing.
The Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (TSPM) and the China Christian Council (CCC), the country’s two main Protestant bodies, singled out the doomsday cult Eastern Lightning, a group which had thousands arrested last year as it predicted the end of the world on December 21.
“The meeting held that heresy and cult followers… undermine social stability and harmony,” the TSPM and CCC said, announcing the resolution on their joint website.
The congress, held every five years, urged clergy and congregations across China to resist groups that do not follow the “pure faith.”
Also known as the Church of Almighty God, Eastern Lightning is estimated to have more than one million members across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan who believe that God returned to Earth as a woman, ‘Lightning Deng,’ in northeastern Henan province in 1992.
The group attracted the wrath of Chinese authorities last year when it predicted the end of the Communist Party and the world on December 21.
Since then Protestants in both the state-sanctioned church and the underground movement have been critical of what is seen as Eastern Lightning's heretical interpretations of the Bible and extreme conversion methods which have reportedly included kidnappings.
“Even though the doomsday prophecy did not come true in the end, believers have not left the cult because they have been brainwashed,” said a postgraduate student at a Protestant seminary in eastern Anhui province who declined to be named.
Eastern Lightning is controlled by Zhao Weishan who lives in exile in the United States.
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