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Members of sect sentenced to prison

LINCANG (AsiaNews/ChinaAid): A court in Lincang in southern Yunnan, sentenced a group of people belonging to the Three Grades of Servants sect to up to 13 years in prison for belonging to an apocalyptic sect that the authorities deem an illegal cult.
Ju Dianhong received a 13-year sentence for leading the sect, recruiting new followers, carrying out missionary work and spreading rumours about an imminent apocalypse.
She said she would appeal her sentence, saying that she had never heard of the sect, nor does she know the meaning of the word cult.
She explained that she only believes in and prays to Jesus Christ and has never harmed anyone or acted against the principles of the bible.
Five other people were convicted, their sentences ranging from four to ten years in jail.
The pseudo-Protestant group was founded in Henan and claims to have millions of followers, especially in the countryside. It’s founder, Xu Shuangfu, was sentenced to death in 2006 for killing members of another competing sect and stealing millions of yuan from his followers. 
Xu’s daughter, Baiyin, said that her father had signed a confession that had been extorted under torture.
According to ChinaAid, at least 200 members of the group were arrested in Yunnan and 40 are waiting to be indicted and prosecuted.
According to scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, sects are spreading in the countryside because they meet an immediate religious need in a society that officially professes atheism.
At the same time, group support and help fills a gap left by a government that does not provide proper social services.

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