Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2018 Volume 14 :: Article 12
2018 Volume 14, Article 12
Family Networks and the Growth of The Church of Almighty God

Author: Massimo Introvigne (CESNUR Center for Studies on New Religions Torino, Italy)

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Although reliable statistics do not exist, there is little doubt that The Church of Almighty God (CAG), one of the largest contemporary new religious movements born in Mainland China, experienced a phenomenal growth since its origins in 1991. Some critics explain this growth through unique tactics of recruitment, including kidnapping members of other churches to convert them. They also allege that CAG members conceal their religious affiliation from their families and that the movement has a low opinion of the role of the family in general. An analysis of CAG teachings about the family do not support this conclusion, however. A survey conducted in 2018 with responses from more than 500 CAG members in South Korea, the United States, and the Philippines, more than 60 percent of whom were refugees from China, led to the conclusion that most devotees who converted in China were recruited by members of their family and in turn tried to convert family members to the CAG, while the majority of the non-Chinese who joined the CAG abroad were not converted by their relatives, although they later tried to convert them. Sociologists such as Rodney Stark and Roger Finke warned against underestimating the role of doctrines in the growth of religious movements, and clearly a key factor explaining the CAG’s success is that many regard its holy scripture, The Word Appears in the Flesh, as persuasive. Family networks, however, are also a factor in the rapid expansion of CAG in China.

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