A court in China sentenced 25 members of a banned religious cult to prison terms of up to eight years on June 27. In a crackdown, dozens of followers of the Quannengshen religious movement were arrested after they allegedly murdered a woman at a restaurant in June, an incident that led to large-scale demonstrations across the country. The word Quannengshen means the Church of Almighty God.
Members of Quannengshen were accused of distributing cult materials in public spaces, disrupting social order and underestimating national laws and regulations. Xiji County Court in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous region in China passed the ruling against the convicted cult members.
Quannengshen was formed in central Henan province and its members believe that Jesus was resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, who happens to be the wife of Zhao Weishan, founder of the banned religious cult. Zhao, also known as Xu Wenshan, reportedly fled to the United States in 2000 after Chinese authorities caused the couple to worry about their security. In 2012, China launched a crackdown on the cult after it proposed to organize a “decisive battle” in an attempt to defeat the “Red Dragon” Communist Party.
The Communist Party in China is obsessed with social stability and opposes the idea of its rule being challenged by any individual or organization. It has cracked down on cults earlier as well but its measures seem to have multiplied in recent years, with the existing government stopping demonstrations with force and executing a number of sect leaders.
Jiang Zemin, who was the former President of China, launched a campaign in 1999 to bring an end to Falun Gong, another religious group, because he perceived them to be an “evil cult”. All that Falun Gong had done for Zemin to reach his conclusion was stage a surprise but peaceful protest outside the leadership compound in Beijing to demand that the government officially recognizes their movement.