Eastern Lightning

Eastern Lightning - "Church of the Almighty God"

Eastern Lightning  

Eastern Lightning

Eastern Lightning (Dongfeng Shandian in Chinese) is a particularly virulent cult that parades as a Chinese house church network. Started in 1989 in central China, Eastern Lightning has spread across China and overseas, including to the United States.

Eastern Lightning

Founded by Zhao Weishan (right), a former member of the Shouters cult, Eastern Lightning blasphemously claims that Jesus did not rise from the dead and will not come again (see True Gospel). Instead, it claims that God already has returned, this time as a Chinese woman named Yang Xianbin (left), for whom Zhao abandoned his wife.

According to Eastern Lightning, being saved from Armageddon, supposedly soon to start in China, requires first believing in Joseph, and then in Jesus, and then in Yang Xianbin, who is also known as "Lightning Deng."

Like many others cults, Eastern Lightning tries to hide by using different names, including, "The Church of the Almighty God," "The Congregation," "Oriental Lightning," "New Power Lord's Church," and "Church of the Gospel's Kingdom." Eastern Lightning also has been called "Seven Spirit Sect," "Second Savior Sect," "True Light Sect," and "True Way Sect."

What makes Eastern Lightning particularly virulent is its deceptive, well-organized attacks against China's underground house churches and its penchant for extreme brutality.

The attacks against China's underground churches include infiltration to identify the church leaders and their respective financial, social or fleshly weaknesses. Once the leaders have been trapped by favors, money or sex that target those weaknesses, they are exposed to the beliefs of Eastern Lightning and pressured or blackmailed to lead their entire congregation into the cult.

Those who join the cult are then pressured to turn over all of their assets, leave their families, live in the cult's communes and obey all of its orders, including those to infiltrate other house churches.

Those who refuse to join Eastern Lightning or try to leave after joining are often threatened, blackmailed, beaten, kidnapped, blinded, poisoned and/or murdered. The brazen brutality of this cult became widely publicized in 2014 when six of its members who were out recruiting new members beat to death a female diner at a McDonald's near Yantai in northeast China for refusing to give them her phone number.

Zhao Weishan continues to direct Eastern Lightning from the United States, to where he moved in 2000, including by using websites and other media to recruit new members from around the world. This cult maintains telephone hotlines in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Macao, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States.