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Growth of Chinese sect causes alarm

HONG KONG (UCAN): The spread of a sect known as the Lightning of the East, which originated in mainland China, has drawn rare attention and a warning from a Vatican-affiliated news site, Fides.

The news agency says that the sect uses deception, blackmail of Catholic leaders, artfully constructs scandals and is “sowing confusion among evangelical Christians and even among Catholics.”

It adds, “From many testimonies we have learned that this sect usually uses moral and physical violence, such as torture, kidnapping, poisoning and even murder of those who intend to abandon it.”

The report was picked up by several Chinese Catholic websites and blogs as well as the Chinese section of Vatican Radio, UCA News reported.

Father John, a priest of the unofficial community in Fujian province, described a recent encounter with a sect member who came to his parish pretending to want to join catechism classes in order to draw people to her sect.

“She used different methods to try and get close to me. One day she suddenly pulled up her shirt in front of me, showing her breasts. I ran out of the house and shouted to my parishioners to come and have a look, which forced her to run away, embarrassed.”

The sect originated in central Henan province in the mid-1990s and its influence stretches as far as Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It claims to have millions of followers.

A coalition of Protestant Churches in Macau took out advertisements in early April to publicly distance itself from it.

The sect has been banned by the Chinese government for some years, but took on a new momentum last year under the name the Church of the Almighty God, spreading the Mayan doomsday rumours. Police arrested around 1,000 followers in December.

Its preaching is based on Christianity, but with extreme interpretations, including prophecies of a female Christ, who will come to conquer human hearts and defeat Satan.

It claims that those who do not accept her word will suffer a terrible death or severe punishment.

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