Walter Russell Mead provides a post on the "Eastern Lightning Cult," and draws the historical parallel to the Taipeng Rebellion.
The “Oriental Lightning” cult has a colorful story of its own, believing that Jesus has returned as a young Chinese woman named “Lightning Deng”, who has written a third testament. The group may have over a million members, and, like the Falun Gong before it, its teachings have been outlawed and its members violently oppressed by the Chinese government. Their founder appears to live in the United States, although few other specifics are known.As may be the memories of the "Vegetarian Demon Worshippers," who were responsible for the 37th worst man-caused atrocity in the history of the world, according to The Great Big Book of Horrible Things.
Could this be a bad omen for the Communist Party? Traditionally in China the rise of religious cults (along with proliferation of corrupt officials and major earthquakes) have been seen as signs that a dynasty is losing its grip. Officials in Beijing are well aware of this and are keen to avoid broadcasting these warning signals to the broader population.
Expect more such cults to arise in different places both in China and elsewhere around the world. Where a rising surge of Christian conversions meets a non-Christian culture, strange and often quite powerful religious movements well up. (A mild recent form of this phenomenon is Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.) Contemporary Africa is also full of such groups. Often connected to apocalyptic fears (natural in an age like ours), these cults sometime burn out fast and sometimes gradually cool into increasingly respectable denominations.
Expect Beijing to keep cracking down on these movements; the memories of Taiping are still vivid.
Although to be fair, the Taipeng Rebellion gets rated #6 and the respective death tolls are 20 million for the Taipeng Rebellion and 2 million for the Fanla Rebellion.
Nonetheless, if I was a totalitaraian atheist regime, with that kind of a backstory, I wouldn't be taking any chances.
This is a follow-up to this post.