China Arrests 31 Sect Members



The Associated Press, September 4, 1999

BEIJING (AP) - Police in southern China's Guangdong province have arrested 31 people and demolished three churches in a campaign to crush a Protestant sect known as the "cold water religion," according to the state-run newspaper Guangzhou Daily.

The arrests took place recently in Lianping County, an impoverished, remote area in northern Guangdong, the newspaper said in a report seen Saturday in Beijing. The crackdown is part of a national campaign to wipe out unauthorized cults and religious groups that have sprung up across the country in recent years.

According to the report, the Protestant sect was founded in 1985 by a farm woman, since deceased, who claimed that cold water was the "invincible" blood of the "Heavenly Father." In recent years, it has gained a following of several hundred people, despite attempts by local authorities to close down their churches.

Followers, mostly illiterate and semi-illiterate farm women, elderly and disabled people, claim that drinking cold water will cure all illnesses, the report said.

It said authorities blamed the sect for causing the deaths of five people, including two young girls, who did not get medical treatment because of their beliefs. Families were broken up and left destitute because of poor harvests after believers substituted cold water for fertilizer and pesticides.

The allegations against the group resemble those against the popular Falun Gong meditation movement, which was banned in July after members staged protests complaining of persecution by local officials. Authorities accuse Falun Gong of causing 743 deaths among followers who either failed to get medical care or committed suicide or murder.


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