BEIJING, (UPI) — Chinese authorities said 97 people, including 37 members of a Christian cult, were detained for spreading rumors about a Dec. 21 apocalypse.
Authorities in seven provincial-level regions said the people were detained and a large number of banners, discs, slogans, books and printing machines were seized on allegations the groups were spreading rumors of the impending end of the world when the ancient Mayan calendar comes to an end Friday, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.
The Church of Almighty God, a Christian cult in northwest China’s Qinghai Province, has allegedly been spreading rumors about natural disasters set to begin Dec. 21, the New York Daily News reported.
“They are telling everyone that on Friday the sun will rise in the west and then disappear for three days and then there will be 72 days of terrible natural disasters starting from Jan. 1, 2013,” a former cult member told the Financial Times on condition of anonymity. “They’ve also told all members to withdraw their money from the bank in preparation for the end of the world.”
The Daily News said the crackdown on apocalypse believers comes amid an investigation into whether a man who recently stabbed 23 children in an elementary school was influenced by apocalypse propaganda.