China / Society

How Church of Almighty God controls members

( Updated: 2014-06-25 20:32

Living in a luxury villa in New York, the founder of Quannengshen, or "Church of Almighty God," is still remote controlling the cult's activities in Chinese mainland.

How Church of Almighty God controls members
Cult woman sentenced for 'exorcism' killing

In an attempt to extend the cult's power, the sect's head Zhao Weishan spent more than 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) on advertisements in Hong Kong newspapers in both Chinese and English. He also bought some booths to distribute cult's propaganda materials to passersby.

Zhao and his wife, Yang Xiangbin, fled to the US in September 2000, shortly after the police busted his cult's headquarters in Central China's Henan province.

The sect has an organizational structure like a pyramid. Zhao, who sits at the top of the pyramid, has set up his base in the US since 2000 and remote controls cult members by dividing Chinese mainland into nine "pasturing areas."

Yang Xiangbin, who suffered from schizophrenia after failing in China's national exam entrance exam, disguised herself as a female Christ. The sect made their followers believe that Jesus has returned to Earth in the form of a woman (Yang Xiangbin). Apart from Zhao, only five top female devotees are allowed to meet the female "Christ".

Zhao has also been accused of using Internet to acquire wealth. Data shows, Zhao accumulated 44 million yuan ($7million) in 2012 from one of his 'pasturing areas' located in Shandong province, East China.

The sect has been widely criticized for spreading rumors and coercing people to join the cult. In late October and early November 1998, numerous robberies and assaults connected with the cult were reported over 12 days in Henan's Tanghe county, with victims' limbs broken and ears cut off.

The latest brutal incident to arouse people's revulsion happened when an innocent woman was killed by the members of "Church of Almighty God". On May 28, a group of adherents beat a woman to death at a McDonald's outlet in Zhaoyuan city, Shandong povince, because she refused to tell them her phone number. According to the witnesses, the sect members were forcing people at the restaurant to join their cult.

The sect pretends to be a Christian cult. Its founder Zhao, born in 1951, was a platelayer with a college degree in Acheng, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. He participated in cult activities in 1981, and became the principal of Heilongjiang branch in 1986.

Zhao first founded "Church of Yongyuan" in 1989, which had thousands of adherents in 1991. After "Yongyuan" was banned by the local government, Zhao left for Qingfeng in Henan and founded the prototype "Church of Almighty God".

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