Evil cults have been the targets of the severe crackdown in China because of their anti-social nature. There have happened many tragic cases of family destruction and human death caused by believing in evil cults. Recently, Boshan District People's Court in Zibo City heard a case in connection with the organization and dissemination of an evil cult. Six defendants were sentenced for the crime of using an evil cult group to undermine the implementation of the law.
The evil cult group, which was based in the Boshan community, spread the heretical fallacies of the “Almighty God” evil cult under the leadership of its superior Zibo District “Almighty God” organization.
After the hearing, Boshan District People's Court in Zibo City made a first instance judgment on six members of the evil cult group according to law, sentencing them from 10 months to 3 years in prison and also imposing a penalty on them. As two of the defendants were unable to appear in court due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the court made the judgment on them through video form.
A woman surnamed Jia, 77 years old, is the oldest of the six defendants. After hearing the verdict, she expressed bitter remorse for joining the "Almighty God" evil cult: "I hadn’t expected that I would have done such a silly thing at such an old age. I feel so bad in my heart. I have done a disservice to you and my children."
A 48-year old woman died of breast cancer for believing in "Almighty God" and failing to receive timely treatment
According to the public prosecutor in charge of the case, there should have been seven defendants on trial in this case, but one of the defendants, a woman surnamed Cui, had passed away before the case was brought to the court. The seven defendants had all suffered from different diseases previously, but they refused to seek medical treatment due to their belief in “Almighty God”.
A woman surnamed Cui who was suffering from a disease stopped taking medicines after being deceived into joining the evil cult. She believed that her disease would be cured without treatment. As a result, her originally minor illness worsened into a serious one. Finally, she was diagnosed with advanced cancer by the hospital, and it was too late to cure by then.
Cui’s husband spent 170,000 yuan, all the savings of their family, to seek medical treatment for her disease, but still failed to save her life. In April of this year, Cui died at the age of 48. As Cui’s 87-year-old father had been bedridden, Cui’s husband kept the news of her death from her father, fearing that her father couldn’t bear the shock of her death. Cui’s belief in the lies of “Almighty God” not only cost her her life but also caused great harm to her family.
After Cui’s death, her husband has been unable to calm down. He not only felt sorry for his wife's death but also was full of anger at the evil cults: "I feel that these things are harmful. You don’t know anything about them until you’ve experienced them. If they happened to you, you would know that they could ruin your family. There is no doubt about it."
A woman surnamed Sun even gave her money for living expenses to the "Almighty God" evil cult organization
Evil cults are harmful, but they clothe themselves in hypocrisy. The “Almighty God” evil cult was founded in 1989 by Zhao Weishan, a key member of the former evil cult "Shouting Sect". To deceive the public, it disguised itself as Christianity when spreading its heretical fallacies.
A woman surnamed Sun, who lived in the Linzi District of Zibo City, had a harmonious family and a stable job. Her family lived a very happy life, though they were not rich. But all this had changed after she joined the “Almighty God” evil cult in 2011. Sun said: "I heard from the Church of Almighty God that Jesus began to do his new work and gave up the old one, but he also did so to save people. The original work he did was the second step, while the present work is the third step, that is, to save people immediately as the world is coming to an end. If you are saved, you will enter the kingdom of heaven in the future."
Sun's second elder brother said that since Sun believed in “Almighty God”, she had become a different person from who she was before. In 2014, Sun quit her job and worked wholeheartedly for the "Almighty God" evil cult organization. She said that the organization brainwashed its members by gathering them every week to learn the so-called "teachings", which resulted in those misguided people getting addicted to the evil cult. "It always used those remarks to dominate your actions; in fact, it is controlling your mind so that you can't get out of it," Sun told reporters.
Sun offended all his relatives and friends by spreading the so-called "teachings". Her second elder brother said that their mother died at an early age, so their father brought them by himself. Since Sun joined the evil cult, her temperament changed dramatically, as she became increasingly indifferent to her family. When her brother was hospitalized, she went to visit him only once; even when her father died, she didn’t care much about it, except that she attended the funeral.
Sun rarely came back home since she got addicted to the “Almighty God” evil cut and finally, she was abandoned by her relatives and friends. This was a torment to the heart of Sun's second elder brother, who made a lot of efforts to help her recognize the true nature of the evil cult but still failed to pull her back to the right path.
In addition to imposing mind control upon its followers, the “Almighty God” evil cult organization also amassed wealth by demanding the so-called "dedication money" from its members. Even an unemployed woman like Sun was also required to hand in “dedication money”. Sun said: "Those long-term followers who had a job had to hand in one-tenth of their salaries as ‘dedication money’. I wanted to do the same as they did, but I had no salary. So I handed in the money I saved from the money my husband gave me for grocery shopping. The money I handed in each time was about 20 or 30 yuan. The more you handed in, the better. I envied those people donating hundreds of yuan each time."
Sun told reporters that the evil cult organization made its members swear an oath that they’d be killed by a car if they betrayed “Almighty God”. Besides, the oath had to be written down in black and white.
In 2017, the evil cult group Sun worked for was investigated and punished by the public security authorities. Sun was sentenced for organizing and participating in evil cult activities. After her release from prison, Sun had to live temporarily with her second elder brother at his home, as her husband had already died and her children couldn’t forgive her. Looking back on the absurd things she had done over the years, Sun finally recognized the true nature of the “Almighty God” evil cult: "Now I realize the importance of the feelings between people. I had no interest in such things as human feelings and family affections in the past, which was all caused by the ‘Almighty God’ evil cult. I didn’t care about my brother after he was ill for a long time. Now my brother takes care of me. I live and eat at my brother's home after my release from prison. So, if I continue to follow the ‘Almighty God’ evil cult, I will be a person with no conscience."
Strengthening publicity and education to keep more people away from evil cults
Evil cults are terrible not only because they pose tremendous social dangers, but also because many people obsessed with them have become their victims or accomplices without knowing it. It is difficult to get out of an evil cult once people get trapped in it. It can be seen from the above case that the key to the struggle against evil cults lies in prevention, intensified educational transformation, and publicity efforts so that more people can recognize the true nature of evil cults.
China's Criminal Law has severe punishment for those who organize evil cult activities or use evil cult organizations or means of superstition to undermine the implementation of national laws and administrative regulations. However, considering that many members of evil cult organizations are deceived into committing crimes because of their unsatisfactory lives, work or emotions, it is also stipulated in relevant judicial interpretations that defendants who have committed crimes for the first time, pleaded guilty, demonstrated remorse, and indicated that they will quit evil cults, may be treated with leniency.
Besides, those cult followers who have committed particularly serious offenses may be considered as having committed not particularly serious offenses as long as they are willing to quit evil cults and no longer participate in their activities, and thus their punishment may be reduced to a lower level. Those who have committed serious offenses may be considered as having committed less serious offenses as long as they are willing to quit evil cults and no longer participate in evil cult activities, and thus they may be sentenced to less than three years in prison. If one has previously received administrative or criminal punishment for engaging in evil cult activities or disseminating evil cult propaganda materials, he or she will be punished more severely if he or she commits offenses again. However, the criteria for constituting such offenses are relatively lower.
At the investigation and trial stage of the above case, the three relevant departments of Boshan District, including the public security bureau, the procuratorate and the court, insisted in educating and transforming the six defendants, and through education and persuasion, helped them realize that their deeds had caused harm to both the society and their families. These defendants recognized through their personal experience the lies advocated by the "Almighty God" evil cult and pleaded guilty in court.
While strengthening the education and persuasion of evil cult personnel, the Boshan District Politics and Law Committee carried out a series of activities in institutions, rural areas, communities, schools, enterprises, and religious places, to enhance the anti-evil cult warning education in the whole society. Since the evil cult personnel often went in and out of the neighborhoods to distribute cult materials, each neighborhood or community in Boshan District organized its staff and volunteers to intensify inspection and place anti-evil cult knowledge display boards in the corridors of the neighborhood buildings, subtly improving people’s anti-evil cult awareness.
In recent years, evil cults extended their tentacles from adults in society to children in school, trying to draw minors into joining them by distributing leaflets and “red envelopes”. In response to this situation, the schools in Boshan District of Zibo City have strengthened education on prevention, so that children can have a correct understanding of evil cults and improve their awareness against evil cults by holding theme class meetings and making handwritten newspapers. Boshan District Politics and Law Committee also organized the masses to hold aerobic exercise competitions, conduct fitness qigong training, and innovate and promote new forms of anti-evil cult publicity campaigns by incorporating anti-evil cult knowledge into tourist attractions. At the same time, considering the main forms of propaganda used by evil cults and the harms brought by them, the Boshan District Politics and Law Commission summarized and compiled "five precautions" against evil cults, "five consequences" of following an evil cult, as well as some other knowledge for the anti-evil cult campaign.