The Taiping Rebellion began in Guangxi province in 1850 with the uprising of a Christian sect, known as the God Worshipping Society, after they clashed with local imperial officials. Their leader, Hong Xiuquan, claimed to be the brother of Jesus after experiencing visions in 1837. Hong’s fanatical and somewhat authoritarian version of Christianity aimed to remove the imperial power structure in China, replacing it with a Christian state based upon equality. As a result, his message was popular amongst the poor who wished to remove the oppressive imperial system. Quickly securing control of Guiping, Hong declared himself the leader of the new Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in January 1851. The Taiping Rebellion moved north, using an organized military and civilian operation to convert local populations and repel imperial forces. Nanjing was overwhelmed in 1853, renamed as Tianjing, and made the new capital. From there the devastatingly bloody rebellion moved north towards the imperial seat of power.