Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!

Here’s some “evil cult”-related translations from our daily life in Qingdao. Both sides — the local authorities and the “evil cults” — are attempting to influence public opinion through printed material. At least two locally active but unrelated groups are officially designated “evil cult” (邪教) in China. We’ve personally encountered three different cults here in Qingdao.

Evil Party!

First, here’s the juicy anti-Party tidbits from some altered currency that we’ve received in the past couple weeks (in addition to this, this, and this). I’ve got 72元 worth of this stuff now. Feel free to suggest better translations:

cultmore Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!Remember: Truth-Virtue-Tolerance is good!
FLDF is good!
When disaster comes your life is guaranteed!
The news broadcasts are all fabrications
Many common people have been deceived
FLDF saves the people of the world
You can only survive by sincerity and honesty

cult02cultmonetake2 Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
The Party plucks organs live from FLG practitioners
Sold off at a high price, the list of crimes reaches to heaven
Organ transplant matching is difficult
Outside China people have to wait two or three years
Inside China they only need one or two weeks
Where does this huge number of organs come from?
Irrefutable evidence of crime is like heaven’s blessing (?)

more cult Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Quit the Party Team sign your name:
The evil CCP harms all living things
Inciting the masses to fight the masses
Killing 80 million of my compatriots
Unjustified persecution of FLG
Every offense cannot be pardoned
Heaven’s fury and people’s enmity will extinguish the Party

cultfiver Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Peace to the Party-Quitting Team
Heaven will extinguish the Party
The Party-Quitting Team is the most intelligent
Heaven extinguishing the Party is an inexorably destined fate
Anyone wanting to save [the Party] is completely in vain
The Party is thoroughly finished

10cult Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Truth-Virtue-Tolerance is good
FLDF is good
The net of justice is extensive
[It will] settle accounts with Jiang Zemin

cult20 Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Truth-Virtue-Tolerance is good! FLDF is good!
Sincerity, respect and care get karmic reward (?)
Harmonious society is high-flown rhetoric
Persecution of DF, Heaven is unforgiving
Quickly find the real facts, quickly quit the Party
Choose a future that has karmic reward

20kuai Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
FLDF is good
Truth-Virture-Tolerance is good

cult01handwrittencultmoney Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Remember FLDF is good, Truth-Virture-Tolerance is good,
Good fortune bestowed by heaven, guarantee of wellness

Evil Cult!

Second, the latest from our neighbourhood’s “Anti Evil Cult Warning & Education Propaganda Board” (邪教警示教育宣传), courtesy of the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association (青岛邪教协会) and the Qingdao Office of Guarding Against and Dealing With the Evil Cult Problem (青岛防范处理邪教问题办公室). I feel safer already. As you can see, they really put their heart into these public education campaigns:

20131029 442 cult03board Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Anti Evil Cult Warning & Education Propaganda Board

I’d share what the second anti evil cult poster says (on the left), but it’s buried underneath vandalized neighbourhood committee election notices (apparently someone has issues; election-related stuff on every notice board got defaced).

Now here’s a picky but important detail: The posters below are not about the “evil cult” that stamps the money. However, the previous batch of evil cult posters was, as were the posters we had in Tianjin. The posters below, currently on display in our neighbourhood, are for the other “evil cult”: the Eastern Lightning/Almighty God cult.

Not all “evil cults” are created equal, and these two “evil cults” are not related. I’ve read from non-gov’t sources about the violence, deception, seduction and brainwashing of the group in the posters below. But that doesn’t apply (so far as I know) to the money-stamping group. So for the sake of fairness and accuracy, keep that in mind. Of these two groups, Eastern Lightning/Almighty God comes closer to earning its official “evil cult” designation. (There are links to info on each group at the bottom.)

Anyway, let’s see what we’ve got here…

20131029 436 cult04poster Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
See Through (discern, penetrate) the Evil Cult “Almighty God”

20131029 437 cult05detail Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Immorally Amass Wealth by Scamming People into “Becoming Believers”
This organization employs lies to dupe, violence to intimidate, money to bribe, eroticism to seduce, etc. to draw people into becoming believers, as well as the so-called “Leaving family, parents, wife, husband and children now is entering the start of the spiritual world,” conspiring with believers to abandoned family, cast off family and give up occupations to go out to “evangelize”. In the name of “sacrificial funds” they exploit their members’ wealth, even to the point of inciting believers to sell off family property and live in a collective so as to welcome the arrival of “Almighty God.” For this reason, some believers might go far from their hometowns, with no news of them at all for several years, or sell off family property and without exception dedicate it to the religious leader, causing the family’s elderly to have no one to support them, the children to have no one to look after them. The originally harmony-ful family is shattered.

20131029 438 cult06detail Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
From top, left to right: Lies to Deceive: “You must obey to get rebirth” / Violence to Intimidate / Immorally Amass Wealth: “sacrificial funds” / Money to Bribe: “First give you 200元” / Sexually Seduce: “Join our church and you can enjoy…”

20131029 439 cult08adetail Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
They will separate the believer from social life, disseminate “Doomsday” rumours. “Communicating with the outside world is forbidden! Await the coming ‘Doomsday’!”

20131029 441 cult07detail1 Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Promote “Doomsday Rumours” and Create Social Panic
The “Almighty God” cult organization makes an extreme effort to imprison believers’ thinking, isolating them from normal social life, disseminating “Doomsday” rumours, and creating panic in society. Their backwards and perverse way of doing things has caused the People’s mass livelihood and to receive severe interference, and the social stability and unity situation has suffered serious damage.

20131029 440 cult08bdetail Propaganda fight: Evil Chinese Cults vs. the Qingdao Anti Evil Cult Association!
Conscientiously Resist the Evil “Almighty God” Cult
The numerous People’s masses have a duty to recognize “Almighty God”-type evil cult organizations’ harm, earnestly strengthen wariness and consciousness, conscientiously resist “Almighty God” evil cult’s corrosion, achieve no listening, no believing, no propagating, if you discover or come across evil cult members disturbing and bewitching, distributing illegal publications or such other illegal activities, actively report and expose, without delay dial 110 and report to the police, safeguard our harmonious and stable happy livelihood.

On Chinese authorities’ actual methods for dealing with undesirable groups:

Required reading:

More about “Evil Cult” #1:

More about “Evil Cult” #2:

More “evil cult” money:

[Photo Gallery:] It’s Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!

fu5 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!

Qingdao’s canal bed Licun Daji traditional market is epic on a normal day (see photos here). But on the last market day before Chinese New Year, it’s “here a , there a , everywhere a -” — like a ginormous red, yellow and black ant colony that some kid has just poked with a stick, all charged up and buzzing with Chinese New Year colour, food and traditions.

fu1 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
Have a fu.

On locals’ advice, a coworker and I squeezed around back and forth through it during xiūxi time (aka after lunch siesta), when the crowds weren’t as lethal as in the morning. We weren’t aiming to document the whole thing, just look around and chat and take pictures of whatever caught our eye, and ended up with a lots of red and religious stuff (in which Chairman Mao makes an expected strong appearance), along with the usual things that make foreigners stop and take pictures.

gods1 [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
财神,the money god, for sale.

(Aside from one pile of pig heads, there aren’t any other photos of piles of animal parts, though it was interesting to see shoppers inspect piles of cold, shiny intestines the same way you would check over tomatoes — i.e. with your bare hands.)

apples [Photo Gallery:] Its Fú Time! Get ready for Chinese New Year 2014!
Apples grown with stickers to make the sun shine “riches” , “respect” , and “advance” into the peels.

Anyway, here you go!

More photos from this market: Licunji – Qingdao’s most epic market

Chinese New Year photo galleries:

Chinese New Year songs to learn:

Lucky Panties & Fu:

Evil Chinese cult money in Qingdao

Anyone else received this stuff? Chinese paper notes stamped with anti-Party and pro-”evil cult” messages?

cultmoney03 Evil Chinese cult money in Qingdao

cultmoney02 Evil Chinese cult money in Qingdao

cultmoney01 Evil Chinese cult money in Qingdao

I’d translate the messages for you — because they are interesting — but this particular group is officially designated an “evil cult” and is still a sensitive topic as far as I know. Plus the anti-Party bits are definitely taboo.

More stuff about this particular “evil cult”:

Stuff about another locally active Chinese “evil cult”:

Chairman Mao the good luck god

Walked out to the street market at the entrance to our neighbourhood to get some bǐng before dinner yesterday. The late afternoon sun was sparkling brightly off the superstitious dashboard ornaments of the cars that clog our complex. First a Guānyīn,

IMG 6526guanyin Chairman Mao the good luck god

then a prayer wheel,

IMG 6527prayerwheel Chairman Mao the good luck god

and then a…

IMG 6531maobust Chairman Mao the good luck god

…Chairman Mao.

Mao as a part of Chinese folk beliefs isn’t anything new, of course. But I thought it was funny the way it just fell across my path today. For more about Mao’s current status in China’s popular spiritual imagination:

Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult: How pervasive are these guys?

Every week I hear more stories of people we know having run-ins with the Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult (东方闪电 / 全能教会). My growing impression is that our city is just crawling with them. This past Saturday a friend (who’s unconnected to the one I mentioned last post), showed me this literature she was given earlier that day:

DFSD3 Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult: How pervasive are these guys?DFSD2 Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult: How pervasive are these guys?
DFSD1 Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult: How pervasive are these guys?

She’d attended what she thought was a Bible study group. She didn’t notice anything amiss until the end, when they mentioned that not only has Jesus come back but she’s living in Henan province. Even then she didn’t realize what she’d stumbled into; she hadn’t heard of this particular group despite the fact that the gov’t's Dec. 2012 crackdown made international headlines.

Just of the top of my head I can think of four unrelated circles we’re connected to in which people have mentioned running into cult — just within the last three weeks.

People who keep tabs on Christianity in China have been aware of this group since the early 90′s because they specifically (and sometimes violently) target Christians and churches. Here’s links I found helpful/interesting — some crazy stuff in here, especially the first-hand accounts:

It’s important to understand this cult within the Chinese rural house church/indigenous modern religious context from which it mutated. I found this in-depth review of a recent scholarly work on China’s modern, Christianity-influenced homegrown religious context helpful:

How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China-style [UPDATED 2x]

11weiqi03 How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]

Hitting problems sideways goes back thousands of years in China. Wéiqí 围棋 (aka “encirclement chess” aka “Go”) is at least 2500 years old. And while they’re certainly willing to engage in head-on confrontation, using an indirect approach is the standard M.O. for Chinese authorities when dealing with troublesome, undesirable groups — it’s effective and less accountable. Here are three examples: two on-going and one more-or-less recent.

problemsolving How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]

The Doomsday Cult

DFSD2 How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]侧面地“sideways”is the adverb a friend used this last Sunday to describe the way the gov’t indirectly combats the Eastern Lightning/Church of Almighty God cult (东方闪电 / 全能教会), of whom his mother-in-law is a member. Everything she does and everywhere she goes is monitored, but they haven’t confronted her directly. They went instead to her husband’s employer, revealed a bunch of what they know, and pressured the employer to use his leverage to pressure the husband to contain his wife.

The result so far is that the entire rest of the family now fears for their livelihoods. All of them reject the cult and its teachings, but having a family member involved is enough to put them all at risk. It’s sufficient motivation for a family to do whatever they can to discourage the wayward grandma. Which, in their case, isn’t very much; this group isn’t called cult for no reason (links at bottom). In China, they’re officially an “evil religion” (邪教).

The Social-problem-engaged Non-Profit

A couple years ago a non-profit in our former city got the sideways treatment. They run a project that provides therapy for disabled kids and training for their parents. That project’s major event every year is a Christmas performance; they rent out a local theatre and the kids, parents and teachers put on a show. One year the local authorities decided to squash it. But instead of contacting the org directly or telling them during the monthly meeting to ‘have tea’, they went to the theatre on the weekend before the show was scheduled and told the managers to cancel the booking. The theatre refused; apparently the authorities weren’t offering to cover their lost revenue. So police were sent to the org’s office. I was told by a person present that there was a verbal confrontation between them and the Chinese staff of the disabled children’s project. Apparently one staff member got agitated: “This is not a religious event, and if you want to cancel it then you can bring your battalions to the show and cancel it yourself!” In the end there was a compromise: they could still put on the show, but they had to take out all the parts that had to do with the Christmas Story (so no baby Jesus in the manger, shepherds and sheep and angels and all that).

The Envelope-pushing Church

shouwang2 How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]In the under-reported case of Shouwang, a church in Beijing that’s been engaged in a public standoff with the authorities for over a year, sideways tactics played a key role in creating the mess. They were a large unregistered church network of small gatherings that decided to begin meeting as one big group. This was breaking an unwritten rule in the gray area of illegal-but-tolerated religious practice in China; unregistered normal churches are often left alone so long as they don’t meet in large groups or otherwise draw attention to themselves. After repeatedly being turned out of venues they’d rented by landlords who were being pressured by the authorities, they purchased their own place. But when they were prevented from taking possession of their own property, they began holding their Sunday services outside in a park in protest, demanding an end to the harrassment and that they be allowed to register as a legal organization without being required to join the Party-controlled “Three-Self Patriotic Church” (三自爱国教会). These demands, however, require changes to actual policy, not just an altering of the unwritten rules of the status quo. They want an end to the “sideways” management, and they want official, legally-recognized status.

shouwang1 How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]

So they’ve forced direct confrontation with local authorities. Those that aren’t under house arrest are detained by waiting police every single weekend. But consider these details (emphasis mine):

In 2012 … members of Shouwang Church were detained 1,600 times by either Domestic Security Protection agents in various districts [of Beijing] or in more than 90 different police stations across Beijing (for periods of several hours to 48 hours). Sixty people were evicted from their homes and more than 10 people lost their jobs

They’ll use legions of police to make sure a scene isn’t created in a public space on Sunday morning, and they’ll keep the leaders under long-term house arrest. But in the meantime they’ll wear down the rank-and-file, suffocating them by twisting the arms of their landlords and employers. (You can find more details of this on-going saga documented here.)

Update #1: landlords, employers, relatives

I’m adding this update because it’s a perfect real-life example:

the situation has been increasingly tense since the beginning of March. He said, the government departments don’t even bother trying to have any direct contact; instead, they go behind our backs to threaten the landlord and not allow us to continue worshipping here. Then they go to the work units of the individual church members and give them orders, telling them they do not have permission to come to our church anymore, otherwise, they must resign from their jobs or they will be fired.

The senior pastor said, “Last weekend, even my 70-year-old elderly mother was summoned by the neighborhood committee and forced to answer questions about my situation, which gave the old lady a great fright.”

Update #2: Children

I failed to mention in the above examples that children are not exempt from being used as leverage: Ten-Year-Old Girl Detained, Denied Food and Water

12weiqi02b How to combat doomsday cults and other undesirables: China style [UPDATED 2x]

Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha

Wandered around Qingdao’s Licun Park 李村公园 for the first time on the afternoon of the Lantern Festival 元宵 just to see what there was to see. Turns out they have a temple to Confucius, which also accommodates Daoist and Buddhist deities and a pagoda you can climb up for the view. I thought the offerings in the temple were curious.

20130224 109xiang Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
The incense sticks say, “All things according to one’s wishes” 万事如意 and “Certainly grant what is requested” 有求必应

20130224 106kongzi Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
The sign between Confucius’ (孔子) knees says, “Seat of the most sacred master Confucius” 孔子。The offering box behind the cushion says, “Merits and Virtues Box” 功德箱

20130224 100kongzisnickers Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
Surely there’s a “Confucius say…” joke to be made involving that Snickers bar…

20130224 104buddhas Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
Laughing Buddha 布袋/笑佛 and Guanyin 观音 (on Confucius’ left) were faring much better than the God of Wealth 财神, who was over on Confucius’ other side.

20130224 273juicebox Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
Yay juice box! (Technically: a blueberry yogurt drink.)

20130224 056pagodaexposed Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
There’s also a pagoda.

20130224 085pagoda Snickers for Confucius, juice box for Buddha
Chinese mythological beasts, which I can never keep straight, maintain watch over the solar water heaters of the apartments below.