CHINA:Special Weekly FoRB Newsletter (22-28.09.2020)

28.09.20 – Church-run schools eliminated to advance patriotic education

The CCP cracks down on educational institutions with ties to places of worship to ensure that the young generation receives only “proper” communist training.

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28.09.20- Islamic symbols and inscriptions purged in Henan

The provincial government banned in April all Islam-related writings and symbols on public signages and private residences, also in businesses, like shops and cafes.

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28.09.20 – Detention facilities in Xinjiang: there are more, not less

The report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and other sources, confirm that the CCP propaganda claim that camps are being closed is a lie.

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 27.09.20 – Shouters sentenced to jail penalties in Anhui

Six members of the movement received jail terms up to five years in Ma’anshan City.

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26.09.20 – One more priest tortured to force him into official church

Father Liu Maochun from the Diocese of Mindong, who refuses to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, was arrested and deprived of sleep to break his will.

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26.09.20 – CCP continues to destroy Uyghur families: The story of Mirehmet

He and his brother live a successful life abroad. This is a crime in China, and a third brother has “disappeared” after having been arrested

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25.09.20 – Ethnic Kazakhs arrested: A relative fears violence and jail rape

Gulaisha Oralbay speaks out. Her brother and two sisters have received heavy sentences to be purged in a notorious jail for crimes the Chinese authorities have refused to disclose to her.

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24.09.20 – CCP rewriting The Gospel: Jesus actually “killed” The woman taken in adultery

The story in John 8 is presented to Chinese students as one where the Savior waits for the Pharisees to leave, then stones the adulterer himself.

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23.09.20 – Tibetan buddhism ‘sinicized’ across inland China

Implementing President Xi Jinping’s orders to advance the ‘sinicization’ of Tibetan Buddhism, local authorities eradicate traditional architecture and symbols.

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23.09.20 – 63 MPs from all over the world call for “magnitsky-style” action protesting cultural genocide in Tibet

A statement by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) builds upon Dr. Adrian Zenz’s new findings to denounce atrocities and Western immobilism.

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22.09.20 – Militarized labor training and indoctrination: Xinjiang schemes exported to Tibet

Although not necessarily involving detention, the CCP’s militarized training of Tibetan workers, sent to work far from home, is suspiciously similar to what is being done to the Uyghurs.

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22.09.20 – More demolitions of temples and religious statues in Hubei

In May, the CCP launched another large-scale drive against Buddhist and Taoist venues in central China’s province where the coronavirus originated.

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22.09.20 – Nearly 120 Church of Almighty God members arrested

In August, authorities in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces launched unified arrest operations, utilizing the data collected through long-term tracking of believers.

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22.09.20 – Official catholic church: State-approved, hounded nonetheless

joining the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association does not mean that persecutions end: state-sanctioned venues are also harassed, unduly controlled, and shut.

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CHINA: Suffered repeated arrests and fled to Italy

HRWF (26.08.2020) – Mr. Zhiwen (pseudonym) was born in 1972 in Jiangxi Province, China. Already as a youngster he followed his mother in her Christian faith. He joined The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in 2000. On many occasions, the CCP tried to arrest him. The following arrest attempts and torture activities caused a fractured ankle and head injuries. In 2015 he felt forced to flee China and seek asylum in Italy. The following is a description of his experiences as shared with Human Rights Without Frontiers.

 

Church demolished twice

 

“We attended meetings of a house church and were often harassed by the CCP government. Officials of the township government would periodically burst into our meetings to restrict the topics of our sermons, as well as telling us where we could spread the gospel. They also forced us to become part of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Church. After we refused to do that, our church was demolished. We rebuilt it but the government tore it down again, arrested the preacher of our church, and put him in prison.”

 

First arrest attempt

 

“In August 2000, I accepted The Almighty God’s message. Because I often spread the gospel, village committee officials and police officers repeatedly asked me to renounce my faith. They warned me that if I carried on believing in God and spreading the gospel, I would be sentenced to prison. One day, several officers from the local Police Station forced themselves into the home of my family without showing their credentials and searched it without a warrant. Our house was completely turned upside down. Seeing that I was not at home, they took my mother instead. Since then, I dared not go back home. I started a life on the run, moving from place to place.”

 

Fractured ankle during escape from second arrest

 

“One day in June 2005, while I was preaching the gospel in an apartment, five to six policemen suddenly arrived and surrounded the building. Desperate as I was, I broke the wooden window frames of the restroom and escaped out of the window, letting myself fall down from the second floor. Several policemen blocked my way and one of them grabbed me by my clothes. I got myself lose and kept running, with the three policemen not far behind me. I ran through a paddy field and rough terrain. I then hid myself for some time in some thatches. I later hitched a ride to the hospital. The whole ordeal took long to recover, and to this day I cannot stand, or walk for a long time, or carry heavy objects.”

 

Police brutality caused serious injuries

 

“One day in the winter of 2012, I went to preach the gospel to a brother’s relatives. Soon four policemen showed up. They shouted at us loudly and condemned our gospel-preaching activities as disturbing the social order. Meanwhile, the police called up dozens of others to surround and attack me. When they caught me, they beat me with wooden sticks that were more than three feet long and three inches thick. I was pulled by my hair, struck near my temples, and hit in the chest. I was in shambles and fainted. The police car soon arrived and I was taken, without them showing their credentials. I had been beaten so badly that my head seemed to explode.

 

At the police station, I was interrogated about church information. But my pain was excruciating and my body shaking all over; I foamed at the mouth. Then I was taken to the county Public Security Bureau. As they were getting me out of the car, I could not even stand, and I fell on the ground. When they realized I was about to die, they left me in front of the gate. Later, a brother took me to hospital to give me the medical attention I needed. The recovery lasted more than a year. However, I still have sequelae of the injuries incurred, as I remain having dreadful headaches.”

Fleeing from a third arrest attempt

 

“While I was recovering, two brothers with whom I had spread the gospel were arrested by the police. The officers had found a notebook with my name and address in it in their possession. I was warned by other brothers and sisters that the police were out to find me. I fled before I was arrested.”

 

Fleeing to Italy, but no safety yet

 

“Between 2013 and May of 2015, I had moved house a total of thirty different times. But wherever I went, there seemed no way to avoid arrest or persecution. In China there was nowhere safe for me any more and the only way to remain free was to flee. In 2015 I managed to get a passport and to reach Italy where I sought refuge.

 

Unfortunately, in December 2018, my application was rejected by the Italian Territorial Commission. In the meantime I filed for appeal. I am now deeply concerned that I might be sent back to China one day.”




Inhumane persecution suffered in China before fleeing to Italy

HRWF (26.08.2020) – Chen Xin (pseudonym) was born in Fujian Province, China. He was a Christian from his childhood and joined The Church of Almighty God (CAG) in 2002. His faith, and connecting activities, caused his arrest in 2003 and his sentence of one-year detention in a labor camp. During that time he was subjected to severe punishments, and forced to do 14 hours a day hard labor. In October 2015 he fled to Italy and filed an application for asylum. He shared his experiences with Human Rights Without Frontiers.

 

Arrested for carrying a Bible and religious books

 

“On the night of June 30, 2003, when Brother Wu and I went to his relative’s home to spread the gospel, we were stopped by the police at a fork in the road. They forcibly took away my laptop bag to search it. As soon as they found the Bible and some CAG books, they called the local Religious Affairs Bureau and took us to a border police station.”

 

Interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to one-year imprisonment

 

“In order to get information from me about church leaders and church assets, the Religious Affairs Bureau officials and the police interrogated and tortured me. They violently slapped me in the face, beat, and kicked me. They pulled my hands from my back and tied my thumbs together tightly with a hemp cord. It hurt so bad that I could not sleep a wink that whole night. On the second day, the cord had already cut deep wounds in my flesh, and my thumbs were black and felt numb. Then the police ordered me to do the horse-riding stance. In less than two minutes it caused me to sweat and I was unable to control the trembling in my hands and feet. The policeman first slapped me various times, and then hit on my head with a book. My face was burning with pain and I heard a ringing in my ears. They then put a motorcycle helmet on my head and banged my head on the wall continuously for seven to eight times. The strikes caused me to feel dizzy and made me vomit, until I collapsed on the floor. The policeman then forcibly took me back again into the interrogation room. Seeing that I still refused to confess, a policeman made me kneel down, with my knees on the edge of a metal pan of only ten centimeters in diameter. Its edge penetrated deeply into my knees, making me suffer unbearably into the bones. After kneeling for about one minute, my whole body trembled. I felt dizzy, and soon fell on the ground.

 

Without any proof and with no officially recognized legal process, the CCP government charged me of belonging to a xie jiao organization, and sentenced me to one year of detention in a labor camp.”

 

Stripped naked and forced to do slave labor

 

“In China’s prisons believers in God are deemed to be the leading political criminals, meaning that both jailers and convicts can abuse and insult them at will. As soon as I entered the cell, the guards started to incite the other convicts to torturing me. They forced me to get completely naked, do a half squat, and open my mouth wide in front of everybody. Then by throwing a continuous jet of water into my face they almost suffocated me.

 

Life in the labor camp was inhuman. The cells are less than fifty square meters, and house more than seventy people, with horrible sanitary conditions. Every day we had plain rice which contained insects, and a bowl of vegetable soup with seven or eight worms, and no oil. As a result of the lack of nutrition, my body was swollen everywhere. Often I had allergic reactions. In the camp, I had to perform hard labor for fourteen hours each day, without any remuneration. The needles caused blisters in my hands, causing great pain. I was given no bandages. Doing hard labor for such a long time, combined with hunger, gradually made me sick. I was given no medical attention. During the night I often heard the cries and screams of fellow convicts who were beaten by other inmates or the guards. It was so horrible. The prisoner in the bed opposite to mine had tried to commit suicide. All of those scenes occupied my mind from time to time, and I often woke up from nightmares. These ten months went by in pain, fear, and great suffering.

 

After I was released, the village officials repeatedly showed up at my house to be checked. The police threatened me with another arrest in case I believed in God.

 

To avoid being arrested again by the Chinese Communist Government, and for my family’s safety, I had no choice but to leave my home, and run away. I continued practicing my faith in other places while doing odd jobs.”

 

Fleeing China

 

“In July 2008, I was reported to the police by a couple when I had shared the gospel with them. I had to leave from there quickly.

 

During a decade on the run, the CCP police often searched for believers in God under pretense of checking for a so called Temporary Resident Permit. This caused me to live in constant fear, and to suffer miserably.

 

In July 2015, a brother in our church was arrested by the police; I, myself, was also seen in the security video they had. The police called my home phone to ask my whereabouts. They monitored the phone so they could find me and arrest me. Realizing that I lived in greater danger and that I had no place to hide in China, I decided to flee the country, and seek for asylum abroad.

 

Sometime later, using connections and money, I obtained a passport. In October 2015, I successfully fled to Italy. Once there I filed for asylum. Unfortunately, the Italian Immigration Department denied my application twice because of fabricated misinformation by the CCP. I appealed to the Supreme Court and am currently awaiting for a final decision. I sincerely hope the international community can truly stand behind those who are persecuted, rather than intentionally ignoring the CCP’s persecution of Christians.”




CHINA: 10 myths about The Church of Almighty God

Most of what you find on the Internet about The Church of Almighty God is false. Here is why, and where to look for more reliable information.

 

By Massimo Introvigne

 

Bitter Winter (09.04.2019) – https://bit.ly/2I8xJWI

 

Table of contents:

 

  • Myth 1. The Church of Almighty God Killed a Woman in a Chinese McDonald’s
  • Myth 2. The Church of Almighty God Is Violent
  • Myth 3. The Church of Almighty God Kidnaps Christians to Convert Them
  • Myth 4. The Church of Almighty God Predicted the World Would End in 2012
  • Myth 5. The Church of Almighty God Brainwashes Its Followers
  • Myth 6. Church of Almighty God Evangelism is Motivated by Money
  • Myth 7. The Church of Almighty God Is Against the Family
  • Myth 8. The Church of Almighty God Advocates a Revolution in China
  • Myth 9. The Church of Almighty God Is Clearly Not Christian
  • Myth 10. The Church of Almighty God Is a Cult

 

 

The Church of Almighty God (CAG) is the largest Chinese Christian new religious movement. It is also known as “Eastern Lightning.” It has been founded in 1991, and after its rapid growth alarmed the Chinese regime, it was banned in 1995. It was heavily persecuted since, with hundreds of thousands arrested, hundreds of cases of torture, more than one hundred well-documented instances of death while in custody or as a consequence of police mistreatment, and several cases of organ harvesting. In the 21st century, to justify the persecution, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has launched a massive campaign of fake news against the CAG. Unfortunately, despite having been debunked by independent Western scholars, the fake news has been uncritically spread by some Western media and is still widely available on the Web, where Chinese propaganda is also active with anonymous or pseudonymous texts. Here is a guide to the most common myths and fake news.

 

Myth 1. The Church of Almighty God Killed a Woman in a Chinese McDonald’s

 

False. On May 28, 2014, salesgirl Wu Shuoyan (1977–2014) was killed in a McDonald’s diner in the city of Zhaoyuan, Shandong. Six “missionaries” entered the McDonald’s and asked for the cell phone numbers of the customers. Wu refused to supply hers, was identified as an “evil spirit,” and killed.

 

Chinese authorities claimed that the perpetrators were CAG members, and used the claim to justify their persecution of the CAG. However, Western scholars who studied the documents of the subsequent trial, where two of the assassins were sentenced to death, concluded that the group, although using the name “Almighty God,” was not related to the CAG. It was a different religious movement, which believed in a dual deity incarnated in the two female leaders of the movement: Zhang Fan (1984–2015), who was executed, and Lü Yingchun. At trial, Lü Yingchun clearly explained that she regarded the CAG as “a fake ‘Church of Almighty God’” and her own movement as “the real ‘Almighty God.’” Zhang Fan stated that, although they had read some CAG books, they never had any contact with the CAG (please refer to the above video). Scholars have unequivocally concluded that the assassins were not related to the CAG. The Chinese regime attributed the crime to the CAG to justify its persecution at home and abroad.

 

Myth 2. The Church of Almighty God Is Violent

 

False. The CAG, according to Chinese governmental sources, has four million members. It is surprising, and a testament to its peaceful nature, that only a handful of them have been accused of violent behavior (the rate is much higher in mainline religions). Moreover, the accusations were false. The most horrific accusation is about gouging out the eyes of a young boy in 2013 in Shanxi. Police records show that the crime was perpetrated by the boy’s aunt, who later committed suicide and had nothing to do with the CAG, which was accused of the incident only one year later by a website against “cults.” Chinese propaganda shows pictures of people beaten and mutilated by the CAG but has failed to produce any more specific evidence, detail, or court record, related to the prosecution of CAG members for these alleged crimes. More than 5,000 Chinese CAG members escaped abroad. If they are so violent, why not even one of them has been accused of any violent crime in the host countries?

 

Myth 3. The Church of Almighty God Kidnaps Christians to Convert Them

 

False. This has been alleged in 2002 by China Gospel Fellowship (CGF), a large Christian house church, which complained that CAG had “kidnapped” 34 of its leaders. Although CGF claims it reported the incident to the police, no CAG member was arrested or prosecuted for the crime. The CGF incident became the model for subsequent (and unsubstantiated) similar accusations by other Christian groups, but no police or court records were ever offered as evidence. One only needs to pause and think. CAG members are mercilessly hunted in China. Rewards are offered for their capture. How would they be able to mount a vast kidnapping operation in a police state like China? And CAG grows very fast: millions converted in a few decades. Would they run serious risks just to convert a few dozens more? And are people kidnapped and beaten likely to convert?

 

Forcing people to convert is against CAG theology. In a large church, it is not unlikely that some members, at some stage, used over-zealous or inappropriate recruitment practices. This was noted, and stopped, by the CAG highest administrative authority in 2005. His instructions read, “The gospel must be preached by using regular ways. This has been emphasized many times. Some people still use low and base means to preach the gospel. This must be forbidden. Whoever uses such means to preach the gospel must stop immediately. Anyone who uses them again will be expelled.”

 

A charitable explanation of the accusations by those Christian groups is that some of their leaders were invited to seminars in China and went there without realizing the organizer was CAG (of course CAG, as a banned movement, cannot organize anything in China using its own name). A less charitable explanation is that they were embarrassed by the fact that so many of their members had converted to CAG and invented the “kidnapping” and other rumors as convenient explanations.

 

Myth 4. The Church of Almighty God Predicted the World Would End in 2012

 

False. Many Chinese of all faiths believed in the so called “Mayan” prophecies that the world would end in 2012. Some individual CAG members also did, but they were told they were wrong by the leaders. Those who insisted in talking about the end of the world were expelled. There was a very good reason for this. In CAG theology, there is no end of the world. Our world will be transformed, but will not end. And the transformation will not occur before the person the CAG worships as Almighty God (who was alive and well in 2012) will leave this world. The CCP accused the CAG of being involved in 2012 end of the world riots, but this was just another pretext to justify the persecution.

 

Myth 5. The Church of Almighty God Brainwashes Its Followers

 

False. Most academic scholars of new religious movements do not believe brainwashing exists at all. It is a convenient label used to discriminate against unpopular movements and explain why people convert to them. Courts of law in the United States (since 1990, with the landmark Fishman decision) and elsewhere agreed: brainwashing is a pseudo-scientific myth. Even the tiny, controversial minority of scholars who believes in brainwashing admit its existence can be proved only through large-scale psychological studies of members of a specific group. No such study of CAG has ever been performed, and an independent study would obviously be impossible in China, making the conclusion that the CAG “brainwashes” its followers wholly unsubstantiated.

 

Myth 6. Church of Almighty God Evangelism is Motivated by Money

 

False. The fake news that CAG members receive money for every new person they convert has been invented by Chinese propaganda publications. Considering the number of converts, even the richest religious organization in the world would have been quickly bankrupted by giving money awards for each new convert. It is also false that members are milked of their money and compelled to buy expensive books. In fact, there is no membership fee. CAG rules mandate that, “Believers of The Church of Almighty God can enjoy all of the books of God’s words, spiritual books, and audio and video productions without charge”.

 

Obviously, monetary contributions are needed in a large organization such as the CAG. The CAG’s Principles, however, leave a large individual latitude. “Some insist on making an offering of ten percent [the tithe, common in many religious groups], while others contribute in different ways. As long as it is being offered willingly, God will gladly accept it. God’s house only specifies that those who have only believed in God for less than a year are temporarily exempt from providing any offerings, while poor people are not required to provide any offerings but can make offerings according to their faith. The church will not accept offerings that might lead to family disputes. Those making an offering of money must pray several times, and only after they are sure they are completely willing and are certain they will never have any regrets are they to be allowed to make their offerings.”

 

Myth 7. The Church of Almighty God Is Against the Family

 

False. As in all religions, contrasts may emerge when one member of a family converts while the others don’t, or when somebody decides to become a full-time missionary (a choice available in most religions) and parents or other relatives do not approve. However, studies of CAG’s sacred scriptures and policy documents proved that the CAG has a positive view of marriage and the family as foreordained by God. CAG teaches that the family exists because of God’s “sovereignty and orchestration,” and reiterates God’s requirement of honoring parents and respecting the marriage.

 

Sociological surveys conducted on CAG members outside of China also proved that most of them were converted by relatives and in turn tried to convert their relatives to CAG, although of course other methods of proselytization also exist. On the other hand, it is true that many families including one or more CAG believer are destroyed and separated—not by CAG, but by Chinese persecution. The High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations mentioned in a 2018 report that, “during 2014-2018, the Chinese Communist Party’s monitoring, arrest, and persecution had caused at least 500,000 Church of Almighty God (CAG) Christians to flee their home, and several hundred thousand families had been torn apart.”

 

Myth 8. The Church of Almighty God Advocates a Revolution in China

 

False. The CAG believes that the Chinese Communist Party has constantly “resisted God” and persecuted Christians and other believers. The CAG think that this fulfills the prophecy of the “evil Great Red Dragon” in the Book of Revelation. However, by reading CAG scriptures and literature it becomes obvious that the CAG believes the Dragon will fall by itself under the weight of its errors, and does not advocate any revolution. CAG members are counseled to stay away from politics. And, again, each person needs to pause and think by herself. Since they managed to grow so rapidly and resist persecution, one may assume CAG leaders to be intelligent and realistic people. How can they believe that a small (for Chinese standards) and persecuted group of believers may organize a successful revolution against the Chinese Communist Party, government, and army?

 

Myth 9. The Church of Almighty God Is Clearly Not Christian

 

False. That somebody is American, or Chinese, is an empirical statement. When in doubt, there are authorities (the respective governments) that can certify who is a citizen of their countries, and who isn’t. Who is or isn’t a Christian is a theological statement, and there is no universally recognized authority that can certify this status. Admittedly, CAG theology is different from traditional Christianity, as CAG believes Jesus Christ came back to Earth and incarnated as the Chinese woman it worships as Almighty God. American scholar Holly Folk, who has studied CAG theology, has found in it a number of “Protestant continuities.” As a conclusion, she declared it “a new Christianity with deep Christian roots,” “a real Christianity.” Different denominations and theologians use different definitions of Christianity, some broad and some very narrow. Catholics until the mid-20th century called Protestants non-Christians. Some fundamentalist Protestants still claim Catholics are not Christians. Who is Christian? Who decides?

 

Myth 10. The Church of Almighty God Is a Cult

 

False. As used by the Chinese Communist Party, “cult” or “evil cult” simply indicates a group the Party does not approve of, and whose persecution it tries to justify by spreading fake news. More generally, just as it happens for “brainwashing,” most academic scholars do not use the word “cult,” acknowledging it is a polemical rather than empirical label. A “cult” is a group somebody else do not like. All religions have been called “cults” in their early years. One can still find Protestant literature claiming the Roman Catholic Church is a cult, and arch-conservative Catholic literature making the same accusation against most Protestants. Anti-cultists propose checklist of the features of “cults”: they are dogmatic, authoritarian, patriarchal, demand much from members, discriminate against their ex-members who left the group, and so on. Academics do not regard these criteria (most of which, by the way, would not be applicable to the CAG) as valid for distinguishing between “religions” and “cults,” as the same features are also found within traditional religions. But, at any rate, “cult” is just a label used to discriminate against certain religions and movements, be it by totalitarian regimes, secular opponents of certain religions, or religionists disturbed by the competition. Almost all religions were, and are, accused by somebody of being “cults.”


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Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/  




CHINA: The Church of Almighty God: Situation of asylum-seekers in the EU

The Church of Almighty God (March 2019) –


If you want to be regularly informed about different violations of human rights in the world, click here for a free subscription to our newsletters!

Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: http://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/ 
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: http://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/