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
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
Today's five most popular stories