China has issued a warning to its citizens and has asked them to stay alert when it comes to spiritual courses offered by Indian religious schools. The alert was issued by China's Ministry of Public Security, which said that some of these spiritual schools are "mired in sexual assault scandals."
The issue came to light after a Taiwanese actress took to social media and spoke about a spiritual course offered by a spiritual school in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.
Yi Nengjing, also known as Annie Yi, spoke about promoting lessons of Amma and Bhagavan, creators of the Oneness University, on Sina Weibo on Monday, January 14, after which several believed that she was promoting a "religious cult," reported the Global Times.
The matter became a hot topic of discussion on social media, after which the MPS and the China Anti-Cult Association (CACA) forwarded the post and asked the citizens to be careful of such religious schools and their teachings. It also drew a reference from the case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is in jail for raping his female devotees.
After it created a furore, Yi took down the post and said that she wasn't a part of any cult and was promoting the lessons only because it had helped her understand her family and parents better. She went on to clarify that she wasn't selling the schools lessons and said that she did not know it was against the Chinese law to do so.
Meanwhile, the Global Times quoted an unnamed Beijing-based "anti-cult expert" who said that the school had courses that taught Buddhism and Christianity, similar to the South Korean Unification Church, which according to China is a cult. The expert also revealed that he had been following the Oneness University's course in China since 2010 and that the school initially believed in the 2012 Mayan prophecy, but later removed such content from its website.
China has strict laws when it comes to religious cults. As per the law, one cannot use religion to deceive or control followers. 'Qigong,' a healing practice that involves breathing exercises, is also considered illegal in the country.
"Cult leaders whose activities result in especially serious consequences, such as the death of three or more people, can be fined and imprisoned for at least seven years," the SixthTone website said.