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Well, you already saw me in the video before,
in fact
I was invited by the Chinese Anti-xiejiao Association, which is part of the CCP,
together with several other scholars to discuss the definition of xiejiao.
It was very clear that it's almost impossible to come to an agreement about xiejiao
for two reasons.
Number one, some 30 years ago, scholars in the West stopped using the word "cult."
The word "cult" is still used, of course,
by the media, journalists, political activists,
but we don't use the word "cult."
The word "cult" disappeared from academic studies 30 years ago.
Why?
Because the word "cult" implies a value judgment on groups,
and scholars do not give value judgments.
But there is a second reason. We believe it is wrong to translate xiejiao as "cult."
Cult in the modern sense is a word originating in the early 19th century in Europe,
xiejiao originated in the Ming era,
so it's anachronistic to translate xiejiao as "cult."
The definition of xiejiao in Chinese law
has nothing to do with any definition of cult used in Europe
in the past hundred years.
You already heard about the definition
given by the Chinese Supreme Court and the Chinese Procuratorate,
this word doesn't really exist in English by the way, in early 2017,
saying xiejiao are groups deifying their leaders or spreading superstitious fallacies.
Now, nobody who talked about cults in the West in the last hundred years,
and we no longer talk about cults.
Nobody will recognize this definition,
because spreading superstitious fallacies is an accusation
which can be used against any religion.
Who decides what doctrines are superstitious
and what doctrines are really religious?
So xiejiao has a specific history in China
to ban heterodox groups accused of being against governments
and that, as I said, is from the Ming era.
So I would recommend not to translate xiejiao as cults
and to leave it in Chinese "xiejiao."
When I visited China for this very difficult dialogue with Chinese authorities,
I understood there are three different definitions of xiejiao.
If we talk with Three-Self pastors,
and we did,
Three-Self pastors will define xiejiao as heretical groups,
groups that do not believe in the traditional Christian theology of Trinity,
traditional Christian ideas about Jesus Christ.
So for them, what is xiejiao?
It's a heretical group,
it's a group whose theology we do not like.
Now CCP scholars borrow an old definition of cults from the West
and they define cults as groups using something called brainwashing
to control their members.
This is very funny in a way
because the word "brainwashing"
was coined by the CIA as a tool for the propaganda against Mao Zedong and China.
In other words, what was brainwashing?
Brainwashing as defined by Edward Hunter,
a CIA agent who wrote the first book about brainwashing in China,
brainwashing was something very bad the evil Chinese Communists do.
So, to see the Chinese Communist now using the word brainwashing is
in a way very interesting.
This word did not exist in English language
and was invented in the 50s by the CIA for their propaganda against China.
The third definition is mostly the definition we from the West proposed,
say,
Okay, you want to keep the word xiejiao
because you have been using it for many centuries,
but the only way to use xiejiao in a non-discriminatory way
is to use it for what I call criminal religious movements.
Of course there are religious movements that are criminal,
but criminal means they have a criminal behavior.
Nobody in a democratic society should be prosecuted for ideas or beliefs,
but clearly, people, religious or not religious, doesn't matter,
can be prosecuted for their criminal behavior.
So what is a criminal religious movement?
And I insisted with the Chinese authorities,
"If you want to keep xiejiao,
please use a definition of xiejiao as criminal religious movement.
You should avoid ideas like brainwashing
because there is a consensus among scholars in the West
that brainwashing does not exist,
and you should avoid asking the friendly Christian pastors in the Three-Self
what church is heretic, what church is Christian and not heretic,
because secular state cannot use theological criteria to define criminal movement.
Another wrong notion is the one used in Russia.
Russia liquidated this year, they use this word "liquidating,"
banning, putting out of the law the Jehovah's witnesses
and they have a list of another 37 groups they plan to liquidate.
These groups according to Russian Ministry of Justice are extremists.
What is the main criterion to define these groups as extremists?
The Russian Supreme Court says
an extremist group
is a group saying we preach the true religion and the other religions are false.
But this definition applies to many religions,
Islam, Catholicism and many others.
So this is again a wrong notion of xiejiao.
We cannot say, if a group believes they have the truth,
we may like we may not like, but we cannot say it's criminal,
and it happens very frequently in religion.
So, my definition of xiejiao or criminal religious movement
is a group which, or a religious movement that
either advocates or consistently engages in common crimes
including terrorism, violence, rape, child abuse
and even major economic crimes.
Now I want to quickly examine five elements of
this definition of xiejiao or criminal religious movement.
Number one, xiejiao are religious movements.
Sometimes the Chinese use the word "pseudo-religion."
We do not agree,
because to define "pseudo-religion" you should believe two things,
and these two things are false.
Number one, you should believe you know the true definition of religion,
and if you ask scholars, there are a hundred different definitions of religion.
Number two, you should believe that all religions are nice, kind and bring flowers.
This is again not true.
Many religions commit crimes,
so it's perfectly possible that you are a religious movement
but you commit illegal activities,
so we call criminal religious movement.
Number two, to be criminal,
the religious movement should commit crimes as a group, or justify the crimes,
saying these crimes are good and people should do them.
For example,
there are Catholic priests who are pedophiles,
but that does not make the Catholic Church a criminal group.
Why?
Because the Catholic Church does not advocate pedophilia.
The church made many mistakes,
but normally,
when a Catholic priest is identified as a pedophile, he is kicked off of the church.
There are Islamic terrorists or terrorists who claim to be Islamic,
but that doesn't make Islam a criminal religious group
because most Muslims believe these terrorists do not represent Islam.
So there are criminals in religion,
but the religion is criminal
only when it advocates, justifies, hails the criminal activities.
Number three, crimes should be serious crimes,
homicide, rape, sexual abuse, even enormous financial crimes,
huge networks of international money laundering, for example.
There are cases.
If a religious group is only guilty of some minor administrative or tax violation,
it's not a criminal movement.
Most religions have some problems with taxes.
Number four, crimes should be common crimes,
crimes which will be crimes even if they were committed by non-religious people.
Homicide, always a crime;
crime of being a cult, that's not a crime;
crime of using brainwashing,
that's not a crime because scholars do not believe brainwashing exists.
So physical abuse, beating people, yes;
psychological abuse, we don't know what it is.
So they should be common crimes.
Number five, these crimes should be ascertained by a real court.
That's very important for China.
It should be a court where the defendants have the guarantees
requested by Universal Declaration of Human Rights due process.
You are accused, you should know what you are accused of.
You should have a lawyer, independent lawyer,
not lawyer appointed by the court and friend of the court.
So you should have a regular process
and your crimes should be ascertained through a regular process.
Now let's come to the case of The Church of Almighty God.
The Church of Almighty God according to Chinese authorities is xiejiao.
Now if we ask the pastors of the Three-Self and even of some house churches,
they will say,
"Yes, it's a xiejiao because their theology is a theology we do not like."
And of course, the theology of The Church of Almighty God is a new theology,
is a new version of Christianity.
But as we saw,
this does not make a movement criminal.
We can disagree with the theology of The Church of Almighty God,
but freedom of religion is freedom of following any theology.
Of course it's also freedom to criticize your theology.
But that's a free debate what theology is true,
and nobody should go to jail for following the wrong theology.
Now the CCP, different from the Three-Self churches, says something different.
CCP says The Church of Almighty God is xiejiao,
because they committed very serious crimes including homicide.
So the question is
whether these accusations are true or false, are proved or are not proved.
One accusation the CCP raises against The Church of Almighty God
is you want to overthrow the government.
It is certainly true that
The Church of Almighty God does not like the Chinese government, to say the least,
or does not like the Chinese Communist Party,
and compares the CCP to the red dragon of the Book of Revelation in the Bible,
which is a very bad character in the Bible.
However, if you read carefully the literature of The Church of Almighty God,
to me, it's very clear that
The Church of Almighty God does not advocate revolution or an armed uprising
against the CCP and the government,
but it's a theological idea
that because of prophecies in the Bible, the CCP regime will fall by itself.
"By itself," meaning
The Church of Almighty God does not advocate an armed revolution against,
which will also be very difficult of course, against CCP.
Another accusation heard very often is that 15 years ago, in 2002,
The Church of Almighty God kidnapped
34 pastors of another church, the China Gospel Fellowship,
in order to convert them to The Church of Almighty God.
This is a very obscure episode, and even the object of some novels.
Scholars should still study it.
However, what I can say today is these accusations are not proved.
There has been no police investigation, whose records are available;
there has been no trial, no trial;
nobody has been tried and convicted in China for this crime.
So at the very least, we can say it's not proved.
As you saw in the video,
there is one single incident which is spread by CCP all over the world
to justify The Church of Almighty God is really xiejiao, criminal religious movement,
and that's the McDonald's murder in 2014 in Zhaoyuan.
If you go to the Internet, there are 20,000 websites
accusing The Church of Almighty God
of having perpetrated or organized the McDonald's murder.
Now I agree that the McDonald's murder is a horrific crime,
crime so bad that even alone
it will be enough to call The Church of Almighty God a xiejiao or criminal movement,
if The Church of Almighty God was responsible for it.
So, the real question is:
Who did the McDonald's murder?
The crime was on May 28th, 2014,
six missionaries entered a McDonald in the city of Zhaoyuan
and started preaching and asking clients for their cell phone number.
A lady called Wu Shuoyan didn't give the phone number and was beaten to death.
There were surveillance cameras so we can see the poor lady beaten to death.
But the real problem is: Who were these people?
Happily, I wrote a study about McDonald's murder
and the documents I used, this is very important,
all the documents I used were published by CCP.
I didn't receive documents from The Church of Almighty God.
I worked on documents supplied by CCP,
mostly documents of the trial of the assassins
and interviews in jail with the assassins.
Now, it's very clear that these people say,
"We call ourselves Almighty God,
but we are a different church
from Zhao Weishan (that's the priest of The Church of Almighty God).
We use the same name but we are two different churches."
Zhang Fan was executed for the murder,
you see her here, one of the leaders of this group.
She said,
"Zhao Weishan group (that is The Church of Almighty God we all know),
is the fake Almighty God,
we are the real Almighty God."
"They are fake, we are real." That means two different groups.
Also, the main belief of this small group, they never add more than 30 members
and they were reduced to six when they perpetrated the murder,
their main belief was that
Zhang Fan and another lady—they live together—Lyu Yingchun,
they were one soul in two bodies, they were the Almighty God.
Now The Church of Almighty God has another person as the Almighty God.
So it cannot be the same church.
Again, let me repeat,
all these documents come from CCP, they don't come from The Church of Almighty God.
In the future the CCP may fabricate new documents, it's possible.
But the documents so far available from the trial,
from the interview of the assassins,
from CCP's official analysis of the case
clearly show that the assassins were part of a different movement,
they were not, emphasis on not, part of The Church of Almighty God.
So in the US and Europe, we are becoming very familiar with the idea of fake news.
It's an old idea,
the Soviets used it for Mafia for many decades,
but the world is full of fake news.
In France, scholars have invented a new word called "mediabolization,"
or demonizing groups through the media.
The CCP has been very successful
in using the McDonald's murder to demonize The Church of Almighty God,
20,000 websites,
including unfortunately, because I believe they are very serious people,
a documentary by BBC,
completely accepting the version of CCP.
So they have been successful.
But I hope as more and more scholars study The Church of Almighty God,
the truth will come out
and responsible media will understand the truth.
Of course some people may still not like
the theology of The Church of Almighty God or its ideas,
but as I said,
nobody should be persecuted, tortured or killed for his or her ideas.
And as for the crimes, for some of these crimes there are no proofs.
McDonald's murder,
the main crime attributed to The Church of Almighty God is a real crime,
but done by a different group.
I want to conclude
with an editorial of the New York Times after the McDonald's murder.
That was written by a Chinese novelist who lives in the United States, Murong Xuecun.
I don't know if my pronunciation is right.
He was quoting CCP television
who after the McDonald's murder run a series on xiejiao,
saying, "Xiejiao are groups characterized by immorality and restriction of freedom."
And this writer on New York Times says it's very good
because if Chinese wants to look for xiejiao,
they don't need to look very far,
because the biggest xiejiao is Chinese Communist Party.
And so, if you want to define xiejiao as a group
spreading false information and restricting the freedom the citizens,
the real xiejiao is the Chinese Communist Party.
Thank you.
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Persecuting the Church of Almighty God as a Xie Jiao in China

534 Folder Collection
yi.ping published on May 10, 2018
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