Hundreds held in China for spreading doomsday rumors
December 20, 2012 -- Updated 2347 GMT (0747 HKT)
- The group is called the Almighty God cult
- Many of the group's members are poor, unemployed or both
- Doomsday rumors are being spread at public venues, authorities say
(CNN) -- More than 600 members of a fringe Christian group in China have been detained for spreading rumors of an impending apocalypse, pegged to the Mayan calendar, China's Xinhua news agency reported.
Known as the Almighty God cult, the group latched on to the Mayan doomsday scenario to predict the sun would not shine and electricity would not work for three days beginning on December 21.
The cult was established in 1990 in central China and requires its members to surrender their property to the group.
Group members have spread doomsday rumors door-to-door or at public venues and claimed only they could save people's lives, according to authorities.
Mayans prepare for end of calendar
Debunking doomsday: Mayan calendar
Read more: Some believe Friday is doomsday on the Mayan calendar; the Mayans don't
December 21, 2012, is the endpoint of a more than 5,000-year Great Cycle marked on the "Long Count" calendar of the Mayans, an ancient Native American civilization from Mexico and Central America.
Some say this date marks the end of the world, while others suggest it marks the beginning of a new era.
Most of the cult members seized by police were detained for five to 10 days for disturbing social order, Xinhua reported. Police have seized a large number of leaflets, banners, computer discs, slogans, books and printing machines.
Read more: China cracks down on 'Doomsday cult'
Arrests have been reported in Qinghai, Sichuan, Guangdong, and Guizhou provinces and in the capital, Beijing.
"Advice before catastrophe: Satan's men will be extinct. Only the 'Almighty God' can save man. Anybody who resists God will go to hell," a leaflet said.
Cao Wei, a police officer with the Shanghua police station in Lanxi City, said cult members ask new believers to write letters of assurance to show their loyalty to the "Almighty God" and to evangelize.
Xinhua reported that one member wrote a letter saying, "I must preach to 100 people today, or I will be cursed."
Most of the cult's members are in their 40s, unemployed people in urban areas or low-income groups affected by illness or disaster. The group believes that Jesus has been resurrected as a Chinese woman, Xinhua reported.
Authorities say the cult intimidates people who try to leave.
Part of complete coverage on
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 1129 GMT (1929 HKT)
In China home to most of the 239 people on board, relatives of passengers were increasingly frustrated Monday as the agonizing wait for news continued.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0951 GMT (1751 HKT)
Just call it the Fake Leap Forward: Hong Kongers dressed in Mao suits to protest increasing mainland Chinese influence in their city.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT)
For some local Hong Kongers, the local economy is being geared to the needs of cashed-up Chinese day-trippers, rather than locals.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Vladimir Putin is seeking China's support in Russia's standoff with Western powers over Ukraine.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 0559 GMT (1359 HKT)
Despite the country's improving economy, women in China still face rampant discrimination.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 0824 GMT (1624 HKT)
What's the story with WeChat, the messaging app taking China by storm?
As China's annual parliamentary meetings kick off, Beijing gauges progress on key economic reforms outlined last year.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 0501 GMT (1301 HKT)
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks to CNN about his time in China.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 0449 GMT (1249 HKT)
Limited investment options in China means real estate has been a popular choice for consumers looking to expand their portfolios.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 0140 GMT (0940 HKT)
It's sexy, sophisticated, skintight, and started as a Chinese feminist statement. Here's the story of China's "cheongsam"
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Linkedin, the networking site for professionals, has done what few other foreign online services have achieved -- it has successfully set up its China operations.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT)
With its tradition of free speech, Hong Kongers pride themselves on their strong opinions -- but now local journalists say they are being shut up.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1019 GMT (1819 HKT)
Beijingers are once again choking as smog levels hit "heavy or even worse" levels in the capital and other cities across the country.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
China has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to call off a meeting at the White House with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
Far from being censored, the U.S. political drama 'House of Cards' is widely available in China -- and surprisingly popular.
Today's five most popular stories