SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A court in China's northeast Liaoning province has sentenced five members of a banned religious cult to prison for trying to spread rumors and recruit believers, state media reported on Saturday.

China's Communist Party, obsessed with social stability, brooks no challenge to its rule. It has cracked down on cults, which have multiplied in recent years. Demonstrations have been put down with force and some sect leaders executed.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that the five accused, who live in the city of Panjin, were members of the group Quannengshen, or the Church of Almighty God. It said they were caught with proselytizing materials in their possession.

Quannengshen gained notoriety in 2014 when a video distributed online appeared to show group members beating a woman to death at a McDonald's food chain. That incident led to two members being sentenced to death for murder.

(Reporting by Pete Sweeney)