Despite heavy persecution, the offshoot of the Shouters is still active in rural areas. The CCP arrests and tortures members to eradicate it.
by Qi Junzao
In May 2021, the CCP propaganda against the banned religious movements labeled xie jiao started targeting again the Lord God’s Teachings (Zhushenjiao,主神教). This took some by surprise, as the CCP had announced in 2019 that police efforts had been successful, and the Lord God’s Teachings had been eradicated. However, in November 2020, the CCP anti-xie-jiao specialized police declared that, after all, the movement was “still active in some areas.” In 2021, dozens of believers have been arrested in Guangxi, Hunan, and Yunnan.
Bitter Winter has learned that the crackdown, which is still going on, has been merciless, with believers tortured to know the whereabouts of their co-religionists and the movement’s money. But during the COVID-19 crisis, one believer said, many developed a new interest in religion, and the Lord God’s Teachings movement is actually growing in several rural areas.
To understand the Lord God’s Teachings, we should first consider how a larger religious movement, or network of different religious movements, known as the Shouters, suffered several schisms. One was the Established King or Anointed King (Beili Wang, 被立王), founded by Wu Yangming (1945–1995). In 1983, Wu was arrested as a local leader of the Shouters in Anhui province and “re-educated” in jail. However, after his release, he became again active in the Shouters, was arrested again, and released again in 1988. Wu then proclaimed he had received a revelation from God that he was the Anointed King, i.e., the returned Jesus Christ, which led to his break with the Shouters.
It also landed him in a re-education camp again in 1989. However, he managed to be sent home from the camp for what should have been a short family leave in 1990, during which he escaped from custody. Wu went underground and organized the Established King church in several provinces, gathering some 100,000 followers. After a long hunt, Wu was arrested in 1995, accused of having raped several female followers (a frequent accusation against xie jiao leaders in China), and quickly sentenced to death and executed.
Meanwhile, the Established King (which seems to be still in existence, but greatly reduced in numbers) had already generated its own schisms. The largest one was in Hunan, around the provincial leader of the Established King there, Li Jiaguo (1964–1999). Li claimed that he, rather than Wu, was the second coming of Christ, and gathered some 10,000 followers in his newly established Lord God’s Teachings movement. More joined after Wu’s execution.
In 1998, the Lord God’s Teachings was listed as a xie jiao. In the same year, Li was arrested with some twenty senior leaders of his movement. Not surprisingly, he was also accused of having raped female followers, sentenced to death, and executed in 1999.
With Li’s second-in-command, Zhu Aiqing, out of the picture, as he had been sentenced to 17 years in jail, Zhang Yingming, who had escaped arrest, became the movement’s leader. Zhang claimed to serve as a proxy for Li, who had not really died but has managed to have somebody else (in the position of the ram who took the place of Isaac in Abraham’s sacrifice) to be executed on his behalf, and had escaped “abroad.” Some interpreted “abroad” symbolically rather than literally, and believed that Li was now residing in a mystical realm between heaven and earth.
After Zhang’s death in unknown circumstances, Mo Wulong became the third leader of the Lord God’s Teachings. He was arrested and is still in jail, but the movement stubbornly refused to be eradicated, and survived thanks to its organization in small, secretive cells, mostly active in rural areas.
The CCP’s repression of the Lord God’s Teachings has been merciless, also because it shares with some branches of the Shouters and other Christian religious movements, such as The Church of the Almighty God, the theory that the CCP, or Communism in general, is the evil Red Dragon of the Book of Revelation in the Bible.
In the police’s intentions, the 2021 crackdown is intended to be “final”(the same was announced for the crackdown in 2019). So far, however, persecution has not succeeded in eradicating the movement.