China arrests ‘nearly 1,000’ members of banned cult

Chinese authorities have arrested “nearly a thousand” members of a banned religious group. The crackdown comes after members of Quannengshen, or the Church of Almighty God, thrashed a woman to death inside a McDonald’s outlet in Shandong province in May.

The suspects are allegedly involved in more than 500 criminal cases, Chinese ministry of public security said on August 19 without explaining the nature of the cases. Over one hundred of the suspects are “high-level organizers and backbone members,” it said. The cult, which originated in central Henan province, believes Jesus was resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the sect’s founder, Zhao Weishan, Xinhua said.

Zhao, who is also known as Xu Wenshan, fled to the US in September 2000. Authorities earlier arrested five members of the cult, and charged them with intentional homicide for the killing of a woman at a McDonald’s outlet in Shandong. The woman was beaten to death merely because she refused to give her telephone number, which cult leaders needed for their drive to recruit new members, investigators said.

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