Thirty-seven people were arrested in Xi'ning, Qinghai Province Thursday after local police accused them of being members of a cult that has brainwashed others into believing the end of the world is near, a special police team told the Global Times on Sunday.
Local authorities said "Almighty God," which has long been listed as a Christian cult by the State Administration of Religious Affairs, recently latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning on December 21.
The cult members were arrested for proselytizing by handing out flyers and sending text messages.
Local police from Wuhan, Hubei Province and Chongqing have also arrested people for spreading doomsday rumors.
The cult has told believers and the bewildered that a new era has arrived and is being dominated by an almighty "female Jesus."
It said all nonbelievers will soon perish.
The cult also depicted China as a "waning imperial family" dominated by a "big red dragon," which is the term it uses to refer to the CPC. It calls on followers to start a battle against the Party and build a new nation ruled by god.
A parishioner surnamed Liu from a local Christian church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, told the Global Times Sunday that the congregation has recently expelled a member of the Almighty God cult who had been trying for a year to infiltrate the legally recognized church group.
"A big eye was found in the sun on December 9 in Beijing, and the female Jesus manifested herself with her name. Great tsunamis and earthquakes are about to happen around the world," reads part of a text message forwarded to the Global Times by Liu, who said it had been sent to members of her congregation by the cult member the church had expelled.
"Almighty God" was founded by a man named Zhao Weishan in the early 1990s in Henan Province and has spread throughout the country.
It has a pyramid hierarchy with segregated working groups, normally fewer than seven people. Liu told the Global Times that the cult lured people to their dens and brainwashed them. They also asked followers to give all their assets and their soul to the cult's leader. Many female followers were used in erotic "sacrifices."
A man who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times Thursday that his mother is a follower, and is spreading false disaster messages to people around her.
"She's seldom home and wants to take out most of our family's savings. She doesn't have any sense of family now and curses us all saying god will punish us. No one can talk her out of it," he said.