Chinese actress removes post over religious heresy accusations

A famous Taiwan actress deleted her post promoting controversial Indian spiritual courses, after heated exchanges on Chinese social media over suspected religious cult.

Yi Nengjing, or Annie Yi, an actress from the island of Taiwan, posted on Sina Weibo on Monday promoting lessons of Amma and Bhagavan, creators of the Oneness University based in Chittoor, India.

The post sparked heated discussions on Weibo after the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and China Anti-Cult Association (CACA) forwarded the post and warned the public that some spiritual schools are mired in sexual assault scandals.

The CACA referred to a case of a so-called Indian religious master named Singh who was reportedly arrested for imprisoning and raping nearly 200 female believers in December 2017.

The university offers courses that bring practitioners to a “state of awakening and oneness,” which, according to the university website, is the only solution to human problems, sufferings and miseries.

The university reportedly charges 10,800 yuan ($1,599) for a three-day course.

Yi then defended herself on Wednesday that she promoted Indian spiritual lessons because she understands more about family and parents after attending similar lessons.

She denied being involved in selling the lesson or knowing that the lesson could be against Chinese law.

Anti-cult organizations refer to those who deify the leaders under the name of religion and Qigong, create and spread superstitions to cheat and control others, and damage society, according to the Supreme People’s Court of China.

The university in India failed to reply to the Global Times as of press time.

A Beijing-based Chinese anti-cult expert who has been following the Oneness University’s course in China since 2010 told the Global Times on Wednesday that the university used to advocate the 2012 prophecy and to control its believers.

But the university has changed its website address and does not include such content in its new website, the expert said.

According to the World Religions and Spirituality, a website providing information on worldwide religious and spiritual groups under the Virginia Commonwealth University, some Western followers of the Indian university once connected the university’s 2012 Golden Age prophecy to the “Mayan Calendar” movement, which foretold the “end” of the world on December 21, 2012.

Once the oneness state is attained, all divisions resulting from race, religion, etc. will disappear and so will all strife between individuals, families, cultures, religions and nations. This is what we call the Golden Age or the oneness age, according to the university website.

The university said on the website that “Amma Bhagavan’s teachings do not belong to any particular religion nor do they believe in creating yet another religion.”

The Beijing-based expert also noted that its courses are a mix of Buddhism and Christianity, which is similar to the doctrine of the South Korean Unification Church, which the State Council, China’s cabinet, considers cult.