Church of the Almighty God cult members executed for 2014 McDonald’s murder
BBC New’s story “China executes two cult members for McDonald’s Murder,“ BBC News, 2nd February 2015 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-31087839)
The People’s Republic of China is much more liberal to religious activity, when making a comparison to the Maoist China of the fifties through late seventies, this is partly because of Deng Xiaoping’s introduction of the ‘open door’ economic policy in 1978. The policy main purpose was for trade with the world (mainly the Western world that is), and a free economic-like system. With China making leaps in bounds in the world economy and technology, they are still a communist country in doctrine and have a strangle hold on what people can and cannot practice in terms of religions. The PRC has five officially sanctioned religions that people can ‘officially’ associate themselves with; Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Roman Catholics, which all have an obligation to follow in the guidelines the PRC puts forth.
China having only five official religions that it recognizes, the PRC takes drastic measures towards unregistered groups, which can vary from house churches, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhist groups and new religious groups/cults. The penalty for not being a registered religion in China can result in imprisonment, torture, and even forced religious conversion.
In May 2014, two members of the Chinese religious cult, known as Church of the Almighty God, beat a woman to death in a McDonalds in the town of Zhaoyuan. The Church of the Almighty God is a cult coming from the Christian tradition; the core belief is that God has returned as a Chinese woman to wreck the apocalypse. The founder and main form of contact with God is former physics Teacher Zhao Weishan, who now lives in the United States.
Church of Almighty God members, Zhang Lidong and his daughter Zhang Fan attempted to recruit the 35-year-old woman, Wu Shuoyan. When the 35 year old refused to give out her personal number, the father and daughter cult members beat the woman to death. The pair were both found guilty in October 2014 and executed on February 2nd, 2015. Other members of the cult were present and were given jail sentences that range from seven years to life in prison.
The reason for the beating to death of the 35 year old women, was when Zhang Fan asked for the woman’s number twice and being declined both times, they assumed she was possessed by an evil spirit. Zhang Lidong in an interview believed that she was a demon and said, “we had to destroy her”.
When looking through the lens of the People’s Republic of China, it’s understandable for the execution of these two cult members, as the PRC has had many run-ins in the past with members of this group for various other crimes. The PRC is a one party system of government and any association that isn’t in line with the communist ideology of China, the PRC feels threatened when these groups grow in size. The most recognizable PRC clamping down on new religious movements would be the banning of Falun Gong practice in Mainland China. The government does not care about what you believe in, as long as you’re part of the communist party, part of a PRC registered religious group and follow the law, you’re not seen as a threat from the PRC.