Inside a 'cult': Chinese husband goes undercover in religious sect linked to McDonald's killing

Man reveals sect teaches followers to abandon their families and jobs in the name of God, and that some devotees are seeking immortality

South China Morning Post/June 5, 2014

By Laura Zhou

The husband of a member of the Church of Almighty God, which has been branded as an “evil cult” and banned on the mainland, went undercover and revealed details of the mysterious sect.

Interest in the “cult” was sparked after its alleged members, said to be a family of six, were arrested for brutally beating to death a woman at a McDonald’s restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong province last week, after the victim refused to give them her phone number.

The undercover husband, who refused to give his real name but was identified as Li Yan in a lengthy report in the Beijing Youth Daily today, said he wanted to “save his wife” and bring their lives back to normal.

He spent months with one of the church’s groups in an undisclosed area of the mainland. Li said members of the Church of Almighty God were at first dragged to a Bible study group by acquaintances and taught Christian doctrine, including the seven days of creation.

Those teachings seemed “normal”, he told the newspaper.

But then some doctrines were “secretly replaced … [with] abnormal content”, he said.

The members were encouraged to “break the bondage of family, which is the real start of believing in God”, the husband said.

Li said he was astonished to learn that, according to the church’s doctrine, the belief in God means “work, money and even families are not important”, and “believers are holy while non-convertors are not pure”.

Li said he had been repeatedly advised to give up his job to fully devote himself to God.

Anyone who was against the Church of Almighty God would be considered “Satan, demons or evil spirits”, Li said.

Li said some of the followers at the bottom of the sect system were kind people, but they were “brainwashed”. The followers said they joined the church to seek “immortality” for themselves and their families.

Mainland authorities launched a new round of crackdowns against the sect after the McDonald’s killing, which shocked the nation and prompted outcry.

The religious sect reportedly believes that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be in the form of a mainland woman.

In the latest crackdown, five people were sentenced to prison by the People’s Court of Xi County in Henan for handing out leaflets for the Church of Almighty God.

Two of them face three-and-a-half years in jail while the other two received three-year sentences.

Four other devotees, all women, from Huanren Manchu Autonomous County in Liaoning were sentenced from three to four years in prison for “organising illegal activities” after they publicly staged a gathering and distributed publicity materials for the sect, Xinhua reported.

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