A man from China recently offered a personal account of how he and other believers are being forced to renounce their faith or, if they refuse, be imprisoned.
A man under the pseudonym Li Geng told persecution watchdog Bitter Winter that he was arrested five years ago and was imprisoned for three years and six months for “organizing and using a xie jiao organization to undermine the law enforcement.”
Li is a member of The Church of the Almighty God (CAG), which Bitter Winter describes as “the single most persecuted religious group in China” due to its “phenomenal growth” in membership.
During his incarceration, Li was kept under 24/7 supervision by a team of prisoners that were led by guard assigned inmates.
Bitter Winter explains that the “supervised” prisoner had to obey the team leader and must always stay in close proximity. This also includes asking for permission in everything that they do, including eating, drinking water, using the toilet, changing clothes, sleeping or even scratching an itch. However, if the leader denies the request, the prisoner must comply.
In order to make CAG members renounce their faith, they are subjected to mandatory indoctrination.
Reportedly, Li was required to memorize prison regulations and “The Standards for Being a Good Pupil and Child,” a manual centered on the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius. Additionally, he was forced to watch videos that defamed the CAG.
“Every evening, I was told to write down what I had learned from these books or videos while a TV played very loudly in the same room,” Li said. “As time went on, I started hearing ringing sounds in my ears. After I was released, I learned that my hearing was affected severely, and I could not hear people speaking in slightly lower voices.”
Guards would often beat Li physically if they were unsatisfied with his written reports or for whatever reason at all.
“Instructed by guards, the prisoners who supervised me once pulled me to a corner of my cell and tore up the paper I wrote about the videos. They slapped my face more than a dozen times,” Li told Bitter Winter.
One particular case had an inmate slap Li’s face over 100 times on the fourth day of “classes.” Additionally, Li reported being woken up by the slaps of other prisoners almost every morning.
Li told Bitter Winter that his refusal to be “transformed” in renouncing his faith entailed harsher punishments.
“For about a month, the ‘team leader’ did not allow me to use the toilet in the daytime: I could only use it at night after all other inmates were asleep,” Li recalled. “I was not allowed to defecate for 16 consecutive days. The leader told me that I could not use the toilet because I am less than an animal.”
Li also noted that he ate and drank very little during the 16 days of torture, which affected his health long term.
Bitter Winter reported that Li forcibly ate more than 100 cockroaches in two months, including eating some alive.
“Some of the cockroaches were bigger than crickets,” Li recalled. “My inmate ‘supervisor’ caught a cockroach and put it into my mouth while it was still alive. He didn’t allow me to spit it out, threatening to beat me if I did.
“He then continued putting cockroaches into my mouth but would not let me swallow them. He wanted them to crawl in my mouth first, and only then was I told to chew the cockroaches thoroughly.” Li added. “The pungent taste made me nauseous. I was in unbearable distress.”
The CAG, also known as the East Lightning, was founded in 1991. Considered by some as a "quasi-Christian" group, the church believes that Jesus has returned as a Chinese woman known as Almighty God, “who teaches the fullness of truth for the purification of humankind and the advent of a Millennial Kingdom," Bitter Winter reports.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.