(Traffic wardens chat near Beijing's Tiananmen Gate at a hazy night, October 8, 2012. China risks economic malaise, deepening unrest and ultimately even a crisis that could shake the Communist Party's grip on power unless its next leader, Xi Jinping, pushes through stalled reforms, experts close to the government have warned. REUTERS/Jason Lee)

(Traffic wardens chat near Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate at a hazy night, October 8, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee)

A Chinese court has sentenced 25 members of a banned religious group to prison terms of up to eight years, state media said on Friday, the largest in a series of prosecutions against a group that China calls an illegal cult.

China has sentenced dozens of followers of Quannengshen, or the Church of Almighty God religious movement, since the murder of a woman at a fastfood restaurant by alleged members of the group earlier this month sparked a national outcry.

The Quannengshen members were charged with spreading cult materials in public places, disturbing social order and undermining national laws and regulations, state news agency Xinhua said, citing a ruling from the Xiji County People’s Court in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Thursday.

The Quannengshen group, which originated in central Henan province, believes that Jesus has been resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the sect’s founder Zhao Weishan, Xinhua said. Zhao is also known as Xu Wenshan, Xinhua said, adding that the couple fled to the United States in September 2000.