China / Society

Experts: Tackle cults at grassroots level

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-10 07:28

Religious experts called on governments to regularly update information on heretic sects and strengthen its support and management of densely populated areas to battle cults at the grassroots level.

More people are reporting tips and clues about cults to the authorities since six cult members of Quannengshen, also known as "Almighty God", allegedly beat a woman to death at a McDonald's restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province, on May 28, Li Anping, secretary-general of China Anti-Cult Association, said on Monday.

"I have received calls and e-mails saying their relatives or friends have been obsessed with that heretic sect since the case in Shandong," Li said.

"Some people said their family members are trapped in the cult and asked us to help them. Others provided clues into similar cults," said Li, who added that the association has received 10 calls about cults over the past week.

Li said he welcomed the reports because they show that more people have realized the damaging effects of cults and that government crackdowns have been effective.

Yan Kejia, an expert specializing in religious studies at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said public security authorities and governmental anti-cult departments should take clues from residents seriously and play a major role in fighting these cults.

"It's a good thing that many people know the great negative influence of 'Almighty God' and would like to share information with the government," he said.

The spread of cults like "Almighty God" happens easily in suburban or densely populated areas "because the social network of these people are closed off and channels to confirm information are scarce", Yan said.

"These people are credulous.When they find something wrong after joining a cult, they prefer to share their feelings with relatives who may also believe in the heretic sect," he said.

These people "do not often obtain information from authorities and they don't go online to research these cults".

Yan said local governments must provide more support for residents in social services.

Pu Changchun, a professor of religion at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the grassroots authorities should also regularly update information on cults on their websites to ensure that the public is aware of them.

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