China / Society

Cult followers convicted of endangering society

By CHEN HONG ( Updated: 2014-04-17 19:08

Two residents in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, were convicted of obstructing the law as they planned to distribute materials promoting a religious cult.

Their group, the so-called Church of Almighty God, or Eastern Lightning, pledged to ensure the safety of its followers on "Doomsday" in exchange for money and other assets.

It is the first case in Longgang District People's Court involving the cult, according to the website

One resident, surnamed Tian, was sentenced to three years and two months in jail; the other, surnamed Lu, received three years. Probation of four years was granted, the website reported.

According to the court, the evidence showed that the two were preparing to disperse the material, although they had not done so at the time.

Their preparations were illegal and posed a danger to society, the website quoted the court as saying.

The police raided the pair's rented apartment in February 2013 after receiving tips, seizing more than 6,000 sheets of promotional materials and 33 books about the Almighty God cult. They also confiscated a tablet computer that contained information about the group.

The government identified the Church of Almighty God as a cult in 1995, when its founder, Zhao Weishan, fled to the United States, according to China National Radio.

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