"Almighty God" cult members stand trial for preaching to teenagers

Xinhua Net, China/December 6, 2019

Xinhua -- Four members of the "Almighty God" cult stood trial Wednesday in east China's Anhui Province for allegedly recruited and held teenagers against their will in their training centers.

The Huaishang District People's Court of Bengbu city said the four set up two training centers in the city in August 2018 to preach cultism to teenagers and teaching them computer technology for producing promotional videos.

Prosecutors said a number of teenagers, the youngest of whom was 14 years old, had been brought to the centers, where they had their personal freedoms restricted during the "training."

Police busted the centers on Oct. 18, 2018, arresting the four suspects and confiscating a large amount of cash and materials related to the cult.

Prosecutors said spreading cultist beliefs to teenagers should lead to heavier punishment, but leniency could be granted to Ge Yanmei, the prime culprit who had confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty.

The verdict will be announced at a later date.

"Almighty God," known in Chinese as Quannengshen, grabbed national headlines in 2014 with viral videos showing five of its members beating a woman to death at a McDonald's in the eastern city of Zhaoyuan, condemning her as an "evil spirit" after she refused to give them her mobile phone number for recruitment purposes.

First appearing in the 1990s in central China's Henan Province, Quannengshen claims that Jesus had been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, who is the wife of the cult's founder Zhao Weishan, also known as Xu Wenshan. The couple fled to the United States in September 2000.

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