Men­tuhui cult mem­bers sen­tenced in crack­down

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By XIN­HUA in Wuhan

Prison terms have been handed down to sev­eral mem­bers of the Men­tuhui group (Dis­ci­ples Sect) for or­ga­niz­ing a cult and caus­ing deaths, ac­cord­ing to the cen­tral lead­ing group for the pre­ven­tion and han­dling of cult-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties on Tues­day.

The Men­tuhui, with tens of thou­sands of fol­low­ers, has spread pseu­do­science and evil thoughts un­der the guise of Chris­tian­ity, ac­cord­ing to the lead­ing group.

Men­tuhui was clas­si­fied as a cult by the gov­ern­ment in the 1990s.

Yao Xiangzhi, 35, a mem­ber of the group, was sen­tenced for caus­ing the death of a cult mem­ber sur­named Xu, who suf­fered from schizophre­nia. Xu was de­nied free­dom, as well as food and drinks for a week, while other mem­bers prayed for his re­cov­ery in June 2015 in Jianli county, Hubei prov­ince.

Yao, who only com­pleted pri­mary school, was sen­tenced to three years in prison for or­ga­niz­ing and tak­ing ad­van­tage of a cult and caus­ing death. She is serv­ing her sen­tence in Wuhan.

“It is a sham to treat any ill­ness by pray­ing to ex­pel evil spir­its,” said a cult mem­ber who has se­ri­ous rheuma­tism.

The cult ac­cu­mu­lated more than 40 mil­lion yuan ($6 mil­lion) be­tween 2011 and 2014 through do­na­tions and busi­nesses in­clud­ing su­per­mar­kets, said Yu Shaochao, deputy po­lice chief of Yunxi county, Hubei.

The group never de­posited money in banks but kept cash in the hands of its lead­ers, who of­ten took the money for their per­sonal use, Yu said.

Xu Tao, a re­li­gion scholar at Wuhan Univer­sity, said the gov­ern­ment should let re­li­gious peo­ple play a role in fight­ing cults, as they are most sen­si­tive and can help pre­vent their for­ma­tion at early stages.

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