April/May 2006

Children at risk!

Chinese cults target youth

Edited by Tony Lambert, OMF China Researcher

New evidence of how pseudo-Christian cults target young people has been published recently in China. Mr. Wu Dongsheng is a researcher at Nanjing University who in 1989 joined the Research Center for Grassroots Society. After three years extensive research on cults, in 2005 he published his doctoral thesis on The Secrecy of Evil Cult—A Study on the Regime of Evil Cult Assembly in Today’s China.1

In this detailed and authoritative study, Wu spends some time in examining how four cults—Lingling, Mentuhui (Disciples)2, Lord God and the Holy Spirit Reconstructed Church—all zero in on children in their proselytizing efforts. In what follows, I first give my own short explanation of the nature of each cult, followed by my translation of Mr. Wu’s details of how they target children.

LINGLING

The Double Spirit cult was founded by Hua Xuehe, a primary school teacher born in Jiangsu in 1947. He was originally influenced by the True Jesus Church. After claiming “direct revelation from the Holy Spirit,” Hua was kicked out by the True Jesus Church in 1982. By 1986 he had proclaimed himself “the Second Incarnate Jesus.” He makes great play of the fact that his name is similar to the Chinese word for Jehovah (Yehehua). Cult members are forbidden to pray in the name of Jesus, and rather must pray “in the name of Hua Xuehe.” The cult rapidly spread to a dozen provinces, seriously affecting Jiangsu, Henan, Shandong and NE China.3 In 1990 Hua was arrested and it is believed died some time after his release. His chief disciples Guo Guangxue and Wen Qiuhui took over the leadership and have changed Hua’s teachings somewhat. They proclaim “The Way of Resurrection” (fuhuo dao) and claim that Wen’s home is the “New Jerusalem.”

Wu writes:

Lingling focuses on winning over youth and children to be trained as their back-up force. They make use of the curiosity and liveliness of young people, and draw them in by holding meetings for “spiritual songs” and “spiritual dances.” According to research in one county, 70 per cent of the believers in Lingling there were youth or children, many of them still at school. In a certain county of “Y” province their “General HQ” held special training classes for young people joining the cult. The head of a primary school revealed that nine of his pupils had joined the cult—three were 8 years old, three were 9, two were 11, and one was 13 years old. After they had been deceived they lost the will to study and their attainments uniformly fell. Young Hu was the brightest in his second grade class, but after he joined the cult he fell to the bottom of the class.

THE DISCIPLES (MENTUHUI)

The Disciples were founded by Ji Sanbao, a poor peasant, who was born in 1937. He was baptized only when he was 40 years old in 1977 and set up his own house church and began itinerant evangelism. In 1989 he set up his own cult organization ordaining “Twelve Disciples” in southern Shaanxi. They allegedly practice faith healing to the exclusion of using medicine. By 1989 Ji was proclaiming himself to be a second Christ. By 1995 the cult had spread to 12 provinces and had 500,000 members in central and west China alone.

Mr. Wu informs us:

After the relevant authorities had cracked down on the Disciples they turned the focus of their evangelistic attention to converting youth and children as well as educated people and cadres. They let it be known they would give a prize of 50 RMB for every Party cadre converted; 100 RMB for every rural district cadre or policeman; and 1000 RMB for every county-level cadre. In their Preparations for Work in 1997 which they disseminated in January 1997, they clearly laid down: “In developing new work our target must be lower-level Party members and cadres under the Evil One’s control. For every one of these converted, we win over part of the masses and overthrow part of the government’s control at the grass-roots.” The Disciples also proclaim to children, “You can get through without studying” and “Communist education is useless.” This causes many pupils to withdraw from school when they are converted. Just in one city in “Q” province more than 1,800 children and youth joined the Disciples. One primary school there originally had 200 or more pupils, but after being affected by the Disciples in 1998-99, two-thirds of the children joined the cult and only seventy were left at the school.

THE LORD GOD CULT (ZHUSHEN JIAO)4

The founder of this vicious cult, Liu Jiaguo, was born in Anhui in 1964. He started to attend church when young, but later joined the Shouters and in May 1991 became one of their leaders. He was arrested while attending a secret meeting and received political re-education which did nothing to change his views. He fled to Fuyang in northern Anhui and in November 1991 joined the new cult The Established King (Beiliwang) set up by Wu Yangming. He became a zealous evangelist for this cult in Hunan, but in March 1993 set up his own cult in Xiangtan, Hunan, proclaiming himself to be “The Lord God” (zhushen). In 1995 Wu Yangming was executed, and Liu collected the remnants of his cult together saying that while Wu had been the “Father,” he was now “the Son.” In April 1996 the cult held its first national conference and by early 1998 had spread across China to 23 provinces. Liu Jiaguo was finally tracked down, accused of raping 27 women (including two under-age girls) and executed on Oct. 20, 1999.

Mr. Wu informs us:

The Lord God cult was not satisfied with converting poorly-educated peasants, so it started a deliberate policy of targeting young people and educated people. It started work in the cities and made converts of people with lower, middle and high school education, as well as cadres and Party members and those with financial power. This shows they had very strong political ambitions and far-reaching plans. When the cult was working in a certain area of “S” province, Mr. Chen (born February 1981, with lower middle school education) attended their meetings out of curiosity. He was targeted by one of their top leaders, “Waiting on the Lord,” for training. As he himself relates: “The first meeting consisted of lessons from ‘Waiting on the Lord.’ Afterwards he spoke to me personally saying I was different from other children as I was very polite and had a wonderful future ahead of me. So I should definitely come to the next meeting. But as I had to do an errand for my mother, I couldn’t attend. So next day ‘Waiting on the Lord’ sent me a verbal message to attend the next one. Afterwards I went to two more meetings and he sought me out twice to establish me in my faith.”

THE HOLY SPIRIT RECONSTRUCTED CHURCH (SHENGLING CHONGJIAN JIAOHUI)

This cult was founded in Taiwan by Zuo Kun, who was born in 1930 in Jiangxi province. In 1963 he set up the Blood, Water, Holy Spirit Full Gospel New Testament Church. It is also known as the New Testament Church (Xinyue Jiaohui). He proclaims that he is the “Apostle for the End-Times” and that those who are not baptized by blood, water and the Holy Spirit cannot be saved, and that all other churches are false. Zuo Kun is God’s chosen vessel for this age. According to his warped teachings, “The relationship between Zuo Kun and his workers is that of a father to his children. They must listen, obey and please their father’s will and enter into his feelings so that Zuo Kun is pleased. Then God will greatly bless them.” His five publications are put on a level with the Bible and God will supposedly hear prayer made in the name of his “apostle” Zuo Kun.
Initially using the pretext of visiting his relatives, Zuo Kun has spread his doctrines far and wide, not only in Jiangxi but in Shanghai, Henan, Anhui, Yunnan and Shaanxi. They infiltrate existing house churches by claiming they are the students of orthodox Christian teachers in Taiwan seminaries.

According to Mr. Wu:

Zuo Kun uses every kind of trick to divinize himself and proclaim he is a supernatural being. This cult also stresses training of young people to become its workers. They advocate, “Discovering young vessels, training vessels, using vessels and relying on vessels.” They force young people to read and memorize Zuo Kun’s books, articles and sermons, and even examine them on the result. Then they choose the very best. They secretly send these and other young workers with leadership potential overseas for training. When they have completed it they return home to preach.

CONCLUSIONS

Mr. Wu, in his book, gives convincing proof of how children and young people today are being inveigled into harmful cults. What he does not mention is the need for the Chinese churches to concentrate on Sunday school work and youth training. Unfortunately, this is still a sensitive area. Although more churches are now holding Sunday schools, in others this is impossible because of the widespread Party practice forbidding children under 18 from joining churches or receiving religious instruction at meetings. Although such a regulation has been widely practiced at the provincial and local levels it appears that it has never formally been enshrined as a national law.

It is a fact that quality Sunday school materials are still very difficult to obtain in China and such children’s work as is carried out is still often clandestine. Ironically, the best preventative against the spread of evil cults the government could use would be to allow the churches freedom to fully engage in Sunday school and Christian youth work.

NOTES

  1. As printed on the cover, this is the rather “Chinglish” translation of the book’s Chinese title [Xiejiao de Mimi—Dangdai Zhongguo Xiejiao Juhui Jizhi Yanjiu]. A better translation would be: Cult Secrets—Research into the Mechanisms and Meetings of Cults in Modern China. The publisher is Social Sciences Academic Press. ISBN Number: 7-80190-457-5/D. 139
  2. To allay the fears of any concerned readers, I point out that the Disciples in China is a purely homegrown cult and has no connection whatsoever with the Christian denominations bearing that name overseas.
  3. For much fuller details on Lingling see the China Insight of November/December 1997.
  4. For fuller details see the China Insight of May/June 2000 which translates an interview with the cult leader Liu Jiaguo who was executed in 1999.

Copyright 2006 OMF International