One definition of the word "cult" is "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister." This would certainly describe the Church of the Almighty God, also known as Eastern Lightning, in China. This cult believes that Jesus Christ is currently living as a Chinese woman. Like most cults, Eastern Lightning has a kernel of basis in an established religion -- in this case, Christianity -- and takes belief to radical limits. In August 2014, two cult members were executed for beating a 35-year-old woman to death in a fast food restaurant because she "was a demon," according to The Washington Post.
Other cults exist in China, including The Apprentice Society, the Unification Church and The Shouter's Cult, which is affiliated with Eastern Lightning. Some view Falun Gong as a cult, but its beliefs are strongly rooted in Chinese Buddhism. The Chinese government recently published a list of 14 cults it considers dangerous to its society.
When cults turn deadly:
- On 18 November 1978, over 900 people died in Jonestown, Guyana, as members of The People's Temple, led by Jim Jones. Some who left the cult say the deaths were not mass suicide, but mass murder.
- On 19 April 1993, the FBI and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the Mount Carmel compound near Waco, Texas, home of David Koresh and his cult, the Branch Davidians, amid accusations of sexual abuse and assault on minors. Some 80 members of the organization, including Koresh, died.
- On 26 March 1997, 39 members of the California-based cult Heaven's Gate committed suicide, in anticipation of catching a ride with an alien spacecraft following Comet Hale-Bopp.