Youth in Pingnan County, Guangxi, participate in activities as part of a campaign to “Keep Cults Out of My House,” May 31, 2011. Source: China Communist Youth League, Pingnan County Committee
Before the Falun Gong was banned in 1999, Chinese authorities targeted a wide range of groups and individuals in an on-going “anti-superstition” campaign. Among the targets were several sects based on Christian theology whose beliefs and activities were said to constitute counterrevolution and to undermine social order. The “Lord God Sect” (主神教) is one of these groups. Founded in Hunan Province in 1993, the sect recruited thousands (at least one official source says more than 10,000) of disciples in over 22 provinces, autonomous regions, and cities before it was banned as a “cult” in 1998, and its spiritual leader, Liu Jiaguo (刘家国), was executed in 1999. Like its predecessors the “Shouters” (呼喊派) and “Established King” (被立王), the Lord God Sect features teachings and practices that many Christians find unorthodox or radical—including charismatic leaders who claim divinity and issue sacred teachings—and has been considered by Chinese authorities to be politically subversive. Before “counterrevolution” was removed from the Criminal Law in 1997, people could be charged with “organizing or using a sect to carry out counterrevolutionary activities”; while the existing Criminal Law includes an updated version of the offense in Article 300: “organizing and using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.”
Translated below is a court report regarding three defendants imprisoned this year for organizing house church activities associated with the Lord God Sect in Teng County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The text focuses on the “uncultured” and “wayward” nature of cults and cult members and makes no mention of political motives. All three of the defendants are women with only primary-school education. Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database contains information on 52 individuals who have been incarcerated in relation to the Lord God Sect, 16 of whom are still in prison and were sentenced over the last four years. In instances where the person’s sex is known (14 cases), 86 percent of them are women.
Although not representative of this case, Dui Hua has collected a number of court verdicts and official documents indicating that members of banned Protestant groups have been more likely to receive suspended sentences in recent years. Moreover, many accused of “cult” activities face administrative punishments, like reeducation through labor, rather than criminal sanctions.
No Repentance after 15-Day Detention, Three-Year Sentence for Again Spreading Cult
By: Zhang Minghuan and Wang Li (Reported on ChinaCourt.org)
October 16, 2012
Qin Yan, a woman from Teng County with only a primary-school education, was placed under administrative detention by the local public security authority for propagating the “Lord God Sect.” Afterwards, she failed to learn a lesson from her bitter experience and, in fact, became even more unrestrained, joining together with two other women who also only have a primary-school education, Zhang Meiling and Hu Zaiqiong, to spread the cult and organize followers to illegally gather to publically engage in cult activities. Recently, the Teng County People’s Court of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region announced its verdict in the first-instance trial of this cult case, sentencing Qin Yan, Zhang Meiling, and Hu Zaiqiong to three, two, and one year(s) in prison, respectively, for organizing and using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.
Defendant Qin Yan is a leader and core member of the “Lord God Sect” in Teng County. In November 2009, she was once placed under administrative detention for propagating the “Lord God Sect” in Tianping Town, Teng County, but afterwards she still did not repent. Beginning in August 2011, she continued to spread the cult in Tianping Town, Teng County, and successively recruited defendants Zhang Meiling and Hu Zaiqiong to join the “Lord God Sect.” Thereafter, the three defendants went together to places including Jinji Town, Xiangqi Town, and Xinqing Town to spread the “Lord God Sect” doctrine and establish the house of Hu X in Zhong Village, Lingjing Town, as a fixed venue for illegal meetings of followers of the “Lord God Sect.” When Qin Yan and Zhang Meiling did not come to “teach,” Hu Zaiqiong arranged for followers to meet at her house to study relevant “Lord God Sect” doctrine. On April 26, 2012, as the three defendants were organizing and carrying out an illegal gathering of “Lord God Sect” followers, Teng County police officers took [the defendants] into custody at the scene and seized a large number of manuscripts of cult doctrine and related books.
In the course of the trial, the court found that after the illegal “Lord God Sect” cult was banned in accordance with the law, the three defendants continued to illegally gather to publically engage in cult activities, undermining implementation of the law. Their actions constitute the crime of organizing and using a cult to undermine implementation of the law. In order to protect social management order and severely punish criminal activities of cult organizations, as well as in comprehensive consideration of the facts, nature, circumstances, and degree of harm in the acts of the three defendants’ crimes and their displays of repentance, etc., the court issued the above verdict in accordance with the law.
Judge’s Commentary: The seriousness of the threat and evil nature of cults ought to arouse a high level of alert and deep reflection throughout society. In this case, the three defendants all had a primary-school education and a relatively low overall moral character. Lacking correct judgment about some things, it was easy for them to be misled by others and blindly follow the wrong path. Therefore, we must vigorously promote scientific spirit, eschew and resist cults, fully dig up cults’ spreading roots, and create a good atmosphere in which all of society advocates science, opposes cults, and works together towards harmony.
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