Eastern Lightning: The banned Chinese cult that believes a woman is the reincarnation of Jesus

Eastern Lightning: The banned Chinese cult that believes a woman is the reincarnation of Jesus

The cult believes Jesus has been reincarnated

Friday, July 28, 2017

Members of a cult called Eastern Lightning have been arrested in China - but it's not the first time they've hit the headlines.

Police in China have arrested 18 people who are believed to be part of Eastern Lightning after a six-month investigation.

State media in China has claimed eight of those arrested have said they are ready to be reintegrated with society, as they reject the beliefs of the cult.

The cult also goes by the name Church of Almighty God and was first established in the early 1990s by Zhao Weishan. The man told people that his wife Yang Xiangbang was the reincarnation of Jesus.

However, in 1995 the group was banned by China, so the couple moved to America and maintained the cult's headquarters there, Shanghai List claims.

Those who are a part of the cult believe that being a part of the group will save them from the inevitable apocalypse. Eastern Lightning also calls the Communist Party "the big red dragon" and has denounced the party.

It has previously been reported that Eastern Lightning recruits people by terrorising them and in order for people to be full members of the cult they must leave any links to their previous lives behind.

Eastern Lightning has often been linked to cases of violence, extortion and kidnappings. The group believes that Jesus did not finish his work on earth so god sent the woman to finish what he started.

They think that because Jesus didn't finish his work, then his sacrifice of dying on the cross is not enough to save people.

The arrests are not the first time that the group has appeared in the news. In 2014 it was alleged that members beat a woman to death in a Chinese branch of McDonald's.

Reports claimed that six members conducted the attack after the woman would not give them her phone number, as they had wanted to recruit her. It was alleged the members thought the woman was possessed because of her refusal. Two of the six members were sentenced to death for the murder.

In August last year 40 people thought to be part of the cult were also arrested for allegedly spreading propaganda. It is thought that the cult has been funded by members themselves giving donations as they believe in return for their money they will be saved.

Reporters writing stories about the cult have also previously found it difficult to gain accounts from people who used to belong to Eastern Lightning, showing how much the group is still feared.​

China is not the only country in which the group has a presence. In fact, its website has details for sections in more than 20 countries.

Emily Dunn, an Asian studies academic at the University of Melbourne, claims it is estimated that the group has between several hundred thousand and one million members.

She also believes the fact that Eastern Lightning has been banned has made those involved more secretive as they only know each other by nicknames, so that they can't pass details on to authorities.