Eastern Lightning (Chinese: 东方闪电; pinyin: Dōngfāng Shǎndiàn) is a doomsday cult offshoot of Christianity in China. The official name for the group is the Church of Almighty God (Chinese: 全能神教会; pinyin: Quánnéng Shén Jiàohuì). The Protestant group China for Jesus has estimated that Eastern Lightning adherents may number upwards of 1 million. Provincial security officials in China have characterized the church as "a social cancer and a plague on humankind."
It is also known as Seven Spirits Sect (七灵派), Second Saviour Sect (二次救主派), New Power Lord's Church (新能力主教会), True Light Sect (真光派) and True Way Sect (真道派).
History and beliefs
The group was founded in 1989 in Heilongjiang Province by Zhao Weishan. They believe that God has returned to earth as a woman, "born to an ordinary family in the Northern part of China" to guide mankind for the third and last time. According to the group, the first and second times of active guidance of mankind were as Jehovah of the Old Testament and as Jesus in the New Testament.
The group teaches that a woman self-styled "Lightning Deng" (邓闪电), from Zhengzhou, Henan, is the second Christ. Her most widely distributed book, Lightning from the Orient (《东方发出的闪电》) proclaims itself the Word of God. The book claimed the first coming of Christ was to redeem humanity, while the second is to conquer men's hearts and defeat Satan. Those who do not accept her words would die a terrible death or receive severe punishment.
Eastern Lightning's literature expresses the belief that the world would end on December 21, 2012, a date also referenced by other eschatological religious and spiritual groups. This doomsday apocalypse prediction had wide popular traction in China where the film 2012 was popular and a few entrepreneurs made cash building and selling "arks" to survive the putative apocalypse. The church exploited the phenomenon by holding outdoor prayer meetings and passing out pamphlets asserting that joining up would save believers from the apocalypse.Immediately prior to the "doomsday" date of December 21, the Chinese government arrested 400 members of Eastern Lightning in central China, and as many as 1000 across China, characterizing the organization as an "evil cult". The church has also prophesied the end of the "Great Red Dragon", a term used by the group to refer to the Communist Party of China. China has a long history of revolutionary activity by heterodox religious movements such as the White Lotus Buddhist sect which contested the Yuan Dynasty and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom which fomented the Taiping Rebellion of 1850–1864.
Most of the information available on Eastern Lightning comes from human rights organizations, the Chinese government, and international Christian groups with connections to Christian communities in China. The Chinese government lists the group as a cult and has actively tried to suppress it, especially since its millenarian theology takes an explicit stance against the Chinese government. They are believed to employ extreme methods to attain converts, targeting Chinese Christians especially. They have been cited kidnapping, torturing, and brainwashing their victims into conversion. In 2002, for instance, they kidnapped 34 of the leading members of the China Gospel Fellowship and held them for two months.
Christian groups tend to be among the best-informed of all Western reporters on the movement, though they, like the government, regard the group as a heretical sect that deserves the label "cult" due to the radical differences that separate Eastern Lightning teaching from orthodox Christian doctrine. The group also uses flirty fishing to attract potential converts. 
- Christianity in China
- The Shouters, group that Zhao Weishan was formerly a part of before starting Eastern Lightning
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- Hidden Advent
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- "China cult targeted as ‘doomsday’ nears".