Christian death cults plague rural China
Amazing article: Violence Taints Religion's Solace for China's Poor [NYT]
HUAIDE, China - Kuang Yuexia and her husband, Cai Defu, considered themselves good Christians. They read the Bible every night before bed. When their children misbehaved, they dealt with them calmly. They did not curse or tell lies.
They did order a religiously-motivated hit on a fellow Christian...
[W]hen Zhang Chengli, a neighbor, began hounding them last year to leave their underground religious sect and join his, it seemed like a test of satanic intensity. He scaled the wall of their garden, ambushed them in the fields and roused them after midnight with frantic calls to convert before Jesus arrived for his Second Coming and sent them to hell.
Ms. Kuang poured dirty water on Mr. Zhang's head. Mr. Cai punched him. Yet Mr. Zhang persisted for months until the couple's sect intervened and stopped his proselytizing for good.
Mr. Zhang's body - eyes, ears and nose ripped from his face - was found by a roadside 300 miles from this rural town in Jilin Province, in northeastern China. The police arrested Mr. Cai and fellow sect members. One of them died in police custody during what fellow inmates described as a torture session.
China's growing material wealth has eluded the countryside, home to two-thirds of its population. But there is a bull market in sects and cults competing for souls. That has alarmed the authorities, who seem uncertain whether the spread of religion or its systematic repression does more to turn peasants against Communist rule.
The NYT reports that dozens of underground Christian sects are vying for dominance in the Chinese countryside. Three Grades of Servants and Eastern Lightening are the two most influential cults, each claiming membership in the millions. Eastern Lighting is unusual in that it worships a female Jesus (nee Deng). These two cults are locked in mortal combat with each other, brutal Communist enforcers, and several smaller sects (e.g. the Shouters, the Spirit Church, the Disciples Association, White Sun, the Holistic Church, and the Crying Faction). Conversion tactics include kidnapping, torture, murder and mutilation. Players believe the apocalypse is imminent, except maybe the Communist Party. The one thing they all agree on is hating Falun Gong.
Makes public reason sound better and better, no?