Skip to main content

Hundreds held in China for spreading doomsday rumors

By CNN Staff
updated 6:47 PM EST, Thu December 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The group is called the Almighty God cult
  • Many of the group's members are poor, unemployed or both
  • Doomsday rumors are being spread at public venues, authorities say

(CNN) -- More than 600 members of a fringe Christian group in China have been detained for spreading rumors of an impending apocalypse, pegged to the Mayan calendar, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Known as the Almighty God cult, the group latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun would not shine and electricity would not work for three days beginning on December 21.

The cult was established in 1990 in central China and requires its members to surrender their property to the group.

Group members have spread doomsday rumors door-to-door or at public venues and claimed only they could save people's lives, according to authorities.

Mayans prepare for end of calendar
Debunking doomsday: Mayan calendar

Read more: Some believe Friday is doomsday on the Mayan calendar; the Mayans don't

December 21, 2012, is the endpoint of a more than 5,000-year Great Cycle marked on the "Long Count" calendar of the Mayans, an ancient Native American civilization from Mexico and Central America.

Some say this date marks the end of the world, while others suggest it marks the beginning of a new era.

Most of the cult members seized by police were detained for five to 10 days for disturbing social order, Xinhua reported. Police have seized a large number of leaflets, banners, computer discs, slogans, books and printing machines.

Read more: China cracks down on 'Doomsday cult'

Arrests have been reported in Qinghai, Sichuan, Guangdong, and Guizhou provinces and in the capital, Beijing.

"Advice before catastrophe: Satan's men will be extinct. Only the 'Almighty God' can save man. Anybody who resists God will go to hell," a leaflet said.

Cao Wei, a police officer with the Shanghua police station in Lanxi City, said cult members ask new believers to write letters of assurance to show their loyalty to the "Almighty God" and to evangelize.

Xinhua reported that one member wrote a letter saying, "I must preach to 100 people today, or I will be cursed."

Most of the cult's members are in their 40s, unemployed people in urban areas or low-income groups affected by illness or disaster. The group believes that Jesus has been resurrected as a Chinese woman, Xinhua reported.

Authorities say the cult intimidates people who try to leave.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
updated 1:45 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
updated 10:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
updated 8:57 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
updated 1:13 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
updated 3:42 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT