On 1 May this year Belgian journalist Roland Delacore wrote a personal opinion piece about the Church of Almighty God, which was published in EU Reporter. As a result, Roland Delacore received great criticism in other media by several NGOs. In particular, he was accused of being a “Chinese Government agent” and “one of Beijing’s useful idiots” for his pro-China, anti-cult viewpoint. In response, Delacore has penned a follow up article which he has requested we publish. This article is the personal opinion of the author only, and is not endorsed by EU Reporter. EU Reporter does however support freedom of opinion and speech, and freedom and independence of the press. EU Reporter has decided therefore to publish Delacore’s article unedited.
"Attacked for daring to write" by Roland Delacourt
Recently, I was attacked by the Italian religious research magazine Bitter Winter for publishing an interview exposing the cult nature of Eastern Lightning (Church of Almighty God) in EU Reporter and was even described by its allies as a Communist Party of China agent, writes Roland Delacourt.
At the same time, they are also trying to deny a report on Eastern Lightning (Church of Almighty God) and its allies (18 pages) that I submitted to CIAOSN in Belgium through various private channels. However, it must be pointed out that this report will be an overwhelming blow to the Eastern Lightning. This report is not very detailed. It is a compilation of complaints. All these complaints come from the Christian circle. Including the Vatican and other denominations inspired by Christianity.
Eastern Lightning was founded by Zhao Weishan in 1989. He currently lives in the United States and continues to serve as a church leader. This is a Chinese heretical religious movement based on Christianity, which believes that Jesus was reincarnated as a woman in China. According to unofficial sources, the woman is Yang Xiangbin, born in 1973. It is this fact that makes me feel uneasy. If I slightly suspect that this report was fabricated or written by a pro-communist organization, I would never pass on such a report. A sect worships a woman who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus. In our land, which Christian would agree with the eschatology of this sect?
Do you know Bitter Winter? According to the founder, this is an electronic magazine, launched by the New Religious Research Centre CESNUR in May 2018, to discuss religious freedom and human rights issues in China. The organization is headquartered in Turin, Italy.
According to reports from the German Katolische magazine and the Italian L'Espresso weekly magazine, Bitter Winter is very close to the position of the US government on the China issue. One of its primary purposes is to disrupt the agreement between the Holy See and China.
Massimo Introvigne is the founder of the magazine and the current editor in chief. He calls himself a "sociologist" and is one of the "world’s top experts on new religious movements", but in fact, he is a patent attorney.
Antovigne is also the founder of CESNUR, which has launched the new religious movement magazine The Journal of CESNUR, and the original online magazine Bitter Winter specifically concerning Chinese religious issues. Starting from 1 December, 2020, Bitterwinter.com has added an international column covering religious freedom around the world.
CESNUR is actually regarded as "the most famous controversial religious dissemination and lobbying group". CESNUR scholars defended many religious denominations, such as the Unification Church (Moonies), Scientology, Chinese Almighty Church (accused in connection with the 2014 Zhaoyuan intentional homicide case in Shandong), and the Sun Temple (caused 74 deaths) The chief culprit in mass suicides), Aum Shinrikyo (the perpetrator of the sarin gas attack in Tokyo in 1995), and the Shincheonji Jesuits (which contributed to the spread of the new crown epidemic in South Korea).
In fact, Massimo Antovigne did not manage the magazine as a religious expert or sociologist but worked according to his status as a lawyer. Antovigne always wears a lawyer's suit when introducing sects or sects on the Internet. In this media, you can only read positive information about religion.
Regarding the Sun Temple and the large-scale suicides in Switzerland, France, and Quebec from 1994 to 1997, Antovigne pointed out and condemned certain European countries for passing laws against "cults." On January 20, 2012, he wrote in Bitter Winter: These laws cannot prevent such a tragedy from happening again. This religious group is basically unknown to the media and the police, but these established criminal facts can easily be distracted. The welcoming minority has been discriminated against and labelled a "cult" by their opponents. On September 20, 2018, Antovigne published an article on Bitter.com, questioning the authenticity of the 2014 death of a woman by the Cult of Almighty God in a McDonald’s restaurant in Zhaoyuan, Shandong. He wrote: The Chinese government accused Almighty God Cult of multiple crimes, including the blatant murder of women in Zhaoyuan, Shandong in 2014. However, some academic studies have shown that the crime is another new religious movement with a similar name. Strictly speaking, it has nothing to do with Almighty Sect. For the academic research in his mouth, Antovigne did not give any details. Which university is it? Which experts did it?
In recent years, Bitter Winter and its allies have been defenders of harmful cults and have done their best to resist the actions of organizations such as CIAOSN in Belgium, FECRIS in Europe, and Miviludes in France.
CIAOSN is an information and consultation centre for harmful cults established by a law of June 2, 1998. It is an independent centre under the Federal Judicial Public Service of Belgium.
FECRIS, the Federation of European Sectarian Research and Information Centres, is a federation of European NGOs whose goal is to protect people from sectarian tendencies through its network.
MIVILUDES, an inter-ministerial mission to monitor and combat sectarian tendencies, is a French government agency established in 2002. Its task is to observe and analyse the phenomenon of sectarian tendencies, inform the public of the dangers it poses, and coordinate public authorities to carry out preventive and repressive actions.
Whether it is inter-institutional work or mass work, these organizations have performed well, but this cannot avoid Bitter Winter "voicing" criticism: Belgium, especially its French-speaking area, has a long and deep connection with France. In 1998, Belgium established CIAOSN, the Information and Consultation Centre for Harmful Cult Organizations. Although less powerful, it is very similar to Miviludes and its predecessors. CIAOSN does not directly participate in the "fighting against cults," but it provides advice and suggestions to the government and other departments.
There is no doubt that CIAOSN is deeply influenced by Miviludes, and Fenech himself brags about the influence of this French institution in Belgium. For example, in 2018, CIAOSN had a report with the subject "the response of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to cases of sexual abuse among its members". In addition to the error of only narrating but not commenting on the specific issue of sexual abuse, the report made a general criticism of the Jehovah's Witnesses at the beginning, which was obviously inspired by the propaganda of Miviludes.
As long as these cult fanatics attack me, I know that I am on the right path. The fact that they attacked the "messenger" rather than the message itself proved the uneasy position. All attacks on serious and official institutions by these cult protectors are doomed to failure, because the sectarian tendencies that these people promote or deny will not receive sympathy in Europe or the United States.