Inside The Church of Almighty GodThe Most Persecuted Religious Movement in China

Inside The Church of Almighty GodThe Most Persecuted Religious Movement in China

Massimo Introvigne

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780190089092

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract

Branded “the new Falun Gong” by local authorities, The Church of Almighty God is today the most persecuted religious movement in China. Thousands of police officers are deployed full time to identify and arrest its members. Hundreds of thousands are in jail. Yet the movement continues to grow. Authorities (perhaps exaggerating) claim it has some four million members. They also accuse it of serious crimes. This book is based on interviews with hundreds of members of the once secretive movement, as well as Chinese police officers hunting it. It presents the movement’s origins and history and its idiosyncratic theology, centered in the belief that Jesus Christ has returned in our time in the shape of a Chinese woman, worshipped as Almighty God, to eradicate the sinful nature of humans. It explores the church’s minimalistic but rich worship practices and tells the dramatic story of its persecution in China. It discusses why the movement grew, and grew so rapidly. It also describes the struggling communities of asylum seekers in various countries and addresses legal and social issues about their status as refugees. A candid look at the criminal accusations, largely fabricated by Chinese propaganda, completes the book. The conclusion places The Church of Almighty God within the context of Xi Jinping’s reshaping of Chinese policy on religions.