Cult members executed in China for murder at McDonald’s

BEIJING - Two members of a quasi-Christian cult were executed Monday in China’s eastern Shandong province for allegedly beating a woman to death at a McDonald’s outlet after seeking to solicit phone numbers from restaurant patrons.

Zhang Lidong and Zhang Fan, a father and daughter with membership to the illegal “Church of the Almighty God,” were executed in Yantai city for murder and breaching law enforcement through cult activities, according to the Shanghai Daily.

The defendants were charged with beating Wu Shuoyan, 37, who was waiting in the restaurant with her seven-year-old son, to death in May when she refused to give up her number.

In October, the father and daughter were sentenced to death by the Yantai Intermediate People’s Court, while accomplice Lu Yingchun – who faced the same charges – was handed a life sentence.

Two other cult members, Zhang Hang and Zhang Qiaolian, were sentenced to 10- and seven-year jail terms, respectively.

All four of the Zhangs are relatives.

The murder in May was filmed on the store's security cameras and by other diners on mobile phones. The footage has been uploaded to social media sites posing questions as to why people failed to intervene.

After being arrested, Lidong appeared in a television interview -- which was filmed in prison and broadcast on national television -- saying they attacked Wu "because she is a monster." 

He added, "She is an evil spirit. We are not afraid of the law. We have faith in God."

The Church of Almighty God, also known as "Eastern Lightning" or Quannengshen in Chinese, was founded in 1989 in central China's Henan province.

In August last year, the Ministry of Public Security said that police had arrested nearly 1,000 suspected members since June -- among them nearly 100 "high-level organizers and backbone members."

Xinhua reported the ministry as saying that "Quannengshen cheats people, illegally collects money and violates the law under the guise of religion. A series of acts by its members have harmed people's lives and property and disrupted social stability."

Supporters believe Jesus has returned to earth as a Chinese woman named Lightning Deng -- the wife of the sect’s founder -- and also believe they're secured in a life-or-death struggle against the "Great Red Dragon."

They claim the group has millions of members from Chinese provincial cities and rural areas and is beginning to spread to Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.S.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency