China arrests 500 people for believing in tomorrow's Mayan Apocalypse

Here in the United States, we're mostly treating tomorrow's scheduled End of Days as a bit of a joke — but in China, it's deadly serious. At least, serious enough for the Chinese government to round up and detain 500 members of the Church of Almighty God, a Chinese religious sect, for spreading the notion that the world will end on December 21. The Chinese authorities seized 5,000 items, including banners, DVDs, printed materials, phones, and computers.

Top image: Farmer Liu Qiyuan poses among the apocalypse survival pods he built in the village of Qiantun, in Hebei Province. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Separately, the Guardian reports that China has cracked down on any mention of an impending apocalypse:

Theories that the world will end on 21 December, the last day on the cyclical Mayan calendar, are popular in China. Much of the furore seems to have been inspired by the Hollywood film 2012, a box office hit in China, which used the so-called "Mayan apocalypse" as its central premise.

Chinese media outlets have been told to dampen coverage of the rumoured cataclysm. "Strengthen positive guidance and forcefully guard against the creation and spread of rumours, as well as working up panicked feelings," said a leaked directive posted to the internet by the Berkeley, California-based China Digital Times.

[Guardian]