Oct 30, 2020

'Chinese Female Jesus' Stalks Indian Youth On Social Media, Alarming Church Leaders

Stephen David
Religion Unplugged
October 14, 2020

(ANALYSIS) Church leaders in India’s majority-Christian northeastern state of Nagaland are sounding the alarm following an aggressive social media campaign by a Chinese religious sect that claims Jesus has come back as a woman.

The sect was founded in central China by Chinese physics teacher Weng Zhedong in 1991. The Church of the Almighty God (CAG), better known as the Eastern Lightning Church or Dongfang Shandian, was banned in China in 1995 and Zhedong and some of his followers gained asylum in the U.S. A 47-year-old Chinese woman linked to this group, called Yang Xiangbin, or Lightning Deng, has been advertised as the “new female Jesus” and currently operates from CAG’s base in New York. The sect claims to have received new revelations from the new messiah, captured in their Bible the cult calls “The Word Appears in the Flesh.”

“Soon after we saw their activities online, especially luring our young people on platforms like Facebook, we sent out a warning,” Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) General Secretary Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho told Religion Unplugged. The NBCC represents over 1,600 local Baptist churches representing nearly 700,000 members in northeast India, where Christianity was seeded by American Baptist missionary Edward Winter Clark, who established the first Christian mission and a church in Nagaland in 1872. Nagaland’s 2 million residents are 95% Christians, following a revival in the 1950s and 60s. It’s sometimes called the world’s most Baptist state, having a higher concentration of Baptists than even Mississippi.

Keyho, a former professor of Old Testament and biblical languages at a Nagaland seminary, sent a notice to his fellow church leaders, warning about the false teachings of CAG. He cautioned his flock that this well-organized group is “aggressively moving forward with publication and creating many Facebook pages and colourful artwork that appears biblical and enticing.”

Keyho, who is also president of North East India Christian Council, worries that the group’s outreach is making headway thanks to their aggressive promotional campaigns. The sect is peddling its wares, he says, “through books, videos, computer-generated movies, artwork and other forms of media,” appealing to youth in particular. The sect’s operations remain murky, but estimates suggest that it has over a million members worldwide.

Around 2012, the CAG cult was linked to the Mayan end of the world and doomsday predictions, getting railed by the Chinese authorities in the process. Officials there rounded up an estimated 1,000 members of the sect because of their apocalyptic propaganda: the CAG was warning the public that earthquakes and tsunamis would mark the end of the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar on Dec. 21, 2012. Of course, the predicted doomsday never came, but some followers had built cataclysm-proof bunkers in the Tibetan mountains. It so happened that a Hollywood disaster film, “2012,” riding the doomsday mania, created a furore in Chinese cinemas. Chinese leaders denounced the sect’s doomsday prediction of the demise of what it calls the Great Red Dragon, a reference to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Decades ago, there was a rebel leader in China who claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus. This “fake Jesus” had created a “Taiping Heavenly Kingdom” in south China and almost took on the Qing dynasty. In the late 1990s, a quasi-religious meditation practice called Falun Gong saw the onset of an aggressive crackdown by the Chinese government. In 2015, China executed two CAG members found guilty of murdering a person in a McDonald’s restaurant. It should be noted that the Chinese regime is clamping down on religion across the board, most brutally in persecuting Muslim Uighers in the Xinjiang region.

With India’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions forcing worshippers to go online for worship services, Indian church leaders like Dr. Keyho are calling on their clerical peers across the subcontinent to be vigilant and to remain on guard against the CAG’s online recruitment efforts.

Stephen David is a Bangalore, India-based journalist and political commentator specializing in religion, politics and public policy.


No comments: