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6 Contemporary Chinese Sects and Cults you have never heard Before

Popular Chinese Religious Beliefs
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Chinese Religious Beliefs: a Female Jesus & other million-followers unbelievable cults and sects.

Most people associate the term “China” with rich history, Kung-Fu, or delicious dishes.

Only a few are aware that this Country-Continent is the cradle of dozens of unbelievable, million-followers sects and cults.

In this article, we will introduce you to 6 remarkable contemporary Chinese Religious Beliefs that still exist today.

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1. Yiguan Dao: Ancestral Matriarchal Folk Religion

Chinese Religious Beliefs
Image by 總統府CC 2.0

We start our journey into the Chinese Religious Beliefs within the obscure premises of the so-called China Folk Religion, to which Yiguan Dao belongs to.

Founded in 19th Century Shandong by Zhang Tianran (張天然), the main belief of Yiguan Dao is the creation of all living beings by an Unborn Mother.

Reaching the Earthly World, those creatures were now prevented from returning to Heaven. For this reason, she sent enlightened beings to the Earth to bring her Children back to achieve Salvation.

Adherent to Yiguan Dao can communicate with the Unborn Mother and spread her message through automatic writing and can count on a lineage of masters dating back to almost one thousand years ago.

Persecuted in the past, Yiguan Dao is now legally accepted in the whole China and counts around 15 million followers.

Book on Chinese Folk Religion: “Chinese Gods: An Introduction to Chinese Folk Religion” by Ian Johnson

2. Eastern Lightning: Female Jesus’ Thunderbolt

Popular Chinese Religious Beliefs
Image by mei WuCC 2.0

Throughout the History of China, Jesus never achieved center stage status, but since at least the 1980, innumerable Christian Movements with thousand followers have been popping everywhere.

The Eastern Lightning is one of the biggest among them and it was described by some Chinese media as “the most dangerous cult” in the Country.

It all began in 1991 with the lucky encounter of Yang Xiangbin (楊向彬), female house church preacher of the messages revealed to her by the Holy Spirit, and Zhao Weishan ( 赵维山), who was proclaimed “Lord of Ability” in a later disbanded cult.

Zhao quickly became a leading figure in Yang’s small church, which shortly reached one thousand members.

At this point, the Church’s messages announced that Yang was much more than a humble prophet: she was in fact Jesus and Lord.

Besides having a female Jesus, other Eastern Lightning’s features include the division Human History into three stages.

The third stage starts with Yang’s revelation and the identification of the Bible’s Red Dragon with the Communist Party of China.

One of the most important Chinese Religious Beliefs, it was declared illegal in China in 1995, Eastern Lightning now counts more than 4 million followers worldwide.

Zhao and Yang left China in 2000, moving to New York where they still organize the movement.

A book on this topic: “Inside The Church of Almighty God: The Most Persecuted Religious Movement in China” by Massimo Introvigne

3. Spirit Church: China’s Christian Underworld

Popular Chinese Religious Beliefs
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The history of Pentecostalism in China is over a century-long. Its expansion in the 1980s is something unprecedented that will probably never happen again.

During this decade, Hua Xuehe (华雪和), a Communist Party member and Protestant, decided to leave the True Jesus Church and start his own Pentecostal movement, called Spirit Church.

Considering himself the second incarnation of Christ, Hua’s adepts are encouraged to ditch Jesus’s name and use his name in prayers, a name incredibly similar to the Chinese translation of Jehovah.

Hua was arrested in 1990 and Spirit Church thus became illegal. Nobody has info on the whereabouts of Hua Xuehe since 2015, but his church still counts 15 thousand followers.

Controversial book on Religious Persecution in China: “Religion in China: Survival and Revival Under Communist Rule” by Fenggang Yang

4. Falun Gong: Healing through the Breath

Popular Chinese Religious Beliefs persecuted
Image by Joffers951CC 4.0

Yes, you probably heard about this before, but I am sure there’s something you don’t know about this religious practice created in 1992 in Northeastern China by Li Hongzhi (李洪志).

Its main teachings revolve around the three main concepts of Truthfulness (真), Compassion (善), and Forbearance (忍) as well as the constant practice of Qigong, breathing techniques, and refinement of one’s character.

Many practitioners affirm such practices healed their chronic diseases and gave them supernatural powers, such as telepathy and divine sight.

In the beginning years, Falun Gong enjoyed a certain degree of government support but as it grew bigger and bigger.

Around 1999 it was deemed illegal and virtually eradicated in Mainland China.

Because of its absence of formal membership, it is difficult to assess how many practitioners exist in the World, but estimates place them around 2 to 3 hundred thousand.

Li Hongzhi now lives in a guarded compound in New York City.

One of the many books on Falun Gong in circulation: “Falun Gong’s Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or Evil Cult?” by Danny Shechter

Chinese Religious Beliefs
Image by Erika WittliebCC0

5. Church of Confucius: Wasn’t it just a Philosophy?

You may think of Confucius as only being a philosopher, but the Temples scattered all around the Sinosphere testify he has been venerated as a Saint for centuries.

In the last 20 years, Confucius experienced a revival and countless churches were established in his name.

The Holy Confucian Church of China, established in 2009, is the most famous of them all.

It aims at spreading folk Confucian Religion in the World through daily rituals and eventually become the State Religion of China.

Churches act both as temples and schools, and provide funeral and wedding services.

Despite its rigid hierarchy, the total number of adherents to the Holy Church is unknown.

For an insight on the Confucianist Revival in China, check: “The Sage and the People: The Confucian Revival in China” by Sebastien Billioud

Chinese Religions
Image by Joffers951CC 2.0

6. True Buddha School: Meeting with the Enlightened

Buddhism is one of the more popular Chinese Religious Beliefs. Despite its Indian origins, Buddhism has taken deep roots in China and gave its culture an invaluable contribution.

Its worshippers and denominations are countless, but there’s only one named True Buddha School.

This movement was founded in 1984 by Taiwan native Lu Sheng-yen (盧勝彥), who considers himself a Living, Fully Enlightened Buddha from the Pure Land who had his third eye first opened in 1969.

Followers of the True Buddha School pursue their spiritual advancement through different stages of Yoga. Along the path, they will all need empowerment from Mr. Lu in person.

Unlike other Buddhist schools, it is fine for True Buddha School adepts to eat meat, unless they witness the slaughter of the animal they consume.

Despite being criticized by many Buddhist organizations in the World, the True Buddha School counts 5 million worshippers worldwide.

For a comprehensive book on Buddhism in China, please check: “Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey by Kenneth Ch’en

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