A Christian sect which believes a peasant woman from Hunan province is the second coming of Christ is infiltrating Hong Kong's mainstream Christian churches since being banned on the mainland, religious leaders warn.
One veteran pastor has already been sacked by the Hong Kong Evangelical Church after she was alleged to have adopted the beliefs of the Church of Almighty God.
Ng Yin-fan succeeded in getting some of her congregation from the Yan Ying Church in Yau Tong to join the sect after taking churchgoers to a bible study session run by the cult in early December, according to church executive secretary Kato Chow.
Ng could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Religious leaders say recruitment efforts by the sect - branded an "evil cult" by Beijing - appear to have intensified amid publicity for Mayan doomsday cultists who believe the world will end on Friday.
"Quite a number of churches are seeking help from us due to the infiltration of the cult group," said pastor Wu Chi-wai, general secretary of Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, adding that the cult was targeting experienced pastors who could attract more followers.
Wu said the sect - also known as Lightning of the East - was active in many districts in Hong Kong, including Tai Po, Kwai Chung and Tseung Kwan O.
"As it has been banned on the mainland, I suspect it will, like Falun Gong, build its base in Hong Kong and fight back to mainland China," Wu said.
The sect was founded by Zhao Weishan in 1989, in northeastern Heilongjiang. It preaches that people who do not accept the woman known as Lightning Deng as the second Christ will die a terrible death.
Police in Xining , capital of the northwestern province of Qinghai , detained seven "core" members of the group and 30 other members in a raid on Thursday night, official news portal qhnews.com reported.