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China nets 1,000 cult members

2014-08-20 08:29 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

Chinese police have arrested nearly 1,000 suspected members of the illegal quannengshen (almighty god) cult, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The suspects, all seized since June, are allegedly involved in more than 500 cases. Among them are nearly a hundred "high-level organizers and backbone members", a ministry statement said on Tuesday.

Five members of the cult have already been charged with intentional homicide for the killing of a woman at a McDonald's outlet in east China's Shandong province on May 28, when she refused to give her telephone number to them, allegedly as they tried to recruit new members.

The five will stand trial on Aug. 21 at Yantai Intermediate People's Court in Shandong.

"Quannengshen cheats people, illegally collects money and violates the law under the guise of religion. A series of acts by its members have harmed people's lives and property and disrupted social stability," the ministry said.

Founded in the 1990s in central China's Henan Province, quannengshen group claims that Jesus has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the group's founder Zhao Weishan. The couple fled to the United States in September 2000.

Prior to the case, members of the cult were responsible for numerous suicides and murders, in which many victims were the perpetrators' family members.

According to the ministry, local Party and government departments are trying to convince less devoted members to shake off the cult ideology and return to normal life.

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