A comprehensive, organized campaign against The Church of Almighty God is underway in the province since the beginning of April, aiming to eradicate the Church.
On April 16-18, during an organized operation against The Church of Almighty God (CAG), over 50 members were arrested in the cities of Dezhou, Tai’an, and Liaocheng, in the eastern province of Shandong, according to the data provided by the CAG. The whereabouts of several of the Church’s top leaders remain unknown. Informed sources report that other cities in the province are also planning campaigns against the Church.
The Church of Almighty God is the largest Christian new religious movement in China that has continuously suffered from the brutal suppression at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since its founding in 1991. CAG members may be arrested, detained, and given a heavy prison sentence just for possessing literature of the Church. The CCP launched several special operations of arrest against the Church in 2018, with over 11,000 members arrested, of whom 664 were arrested in Shandong.
According to the family of one of the arrested in Dezhou city, on April 17, eight police officers suddenly broke into the home of the believer and, without presenting any credentials, searched the place, seizing 6,000 RMB (about $ 880) of cash, two computers, and other items. His wife was later taken away as well and is held at a detention house.
In some cases, the police tricked people into opening their doors under false pretenses, like to check water meters or do maintenance work. This is what happened to a believer in Dezhou on the 17th. When she opened the door to someone, who claimed the need to check her home’s electricity circuit, more than a dozen police officers stormed in and rummaged through the house. Spiritual books, two computers, and other faith-related items were seized from her home. The police took the woman away in handcuffs and with a black hood over her head.
Most of the arrested in Tai’an and Liaocheng were also taken away from their homes that were raided and searched, proving that the operation was organized and the information on believers collected well in advance.
One week before the mass arrests, authorities in Shandong’s capital city of Jinan held a meeting to discuss the investigation campaign into persons that belong to religious movements designated by the CCP as xie jiao, like the CAG, with a focus on investigating the “planners” and “organizers” of such groups. According to informed sources, at least 370 key targets of the crackdown were designated in the city.
On April 3, Shandong’s Qingdao city authorities also convened a meeting on “a special battle to ‘clean up gang crime and eliminate evil’ and implement anti-xie jiao work,” ordering to continue applying “high pressure” on the CAG and launching a three-month investigation to eradicate the Church.
The CCP places religious groups that are not subject to government control or that the CCP believes are rapidly growing and pose a threat to the regime on a list of xie jiao and carries out the most severe crackdown against them. Meanwhile, the CCP misleadingly conflates xie jiao with those religious groups that in Western countries are maliciously called “cults” as a way to justify its actions.