[b:e22540d027]Why all the fuss about Falun Gong?[/b:e22540d027]
By Rick Ross
Falun Gong also known as Falun Dafa led by Chinese exile Li Hongzhi has been labeled an “evil cult” in China and it seems Chinese American communities have increasingly become concerned about its adherents activities in the US.
Hongzhi’s followers have caused problems repeatedly during holiday celebrations, apparently using every opportunity to pass out tracts and preach, which has annoyed others and violates the rules set for such events.
As the Chinese New Year drew near this year controversy surrounded the group’s participation in a parade in San Francisco as reported by the San Francisco Sentinel.
At a hearing held by the city’s Board of Supervisors both sides of the Falun Gong controversy spoke out and some of strange teachings of Li Hongzhi leaked out.
According to Falun Gong’s leader “elder women will regain the menstrual period because a cultivation practice of mind and body requires menses.” Hongzhi concludes, “Otherwise, how can they cultivate their bodies without it?”
Hongzhi’s teachings about homosexuality must disturb many in the Bay area, which includes a large gay community. Li says that a “black substance” accumulates in the body due to homosexuality that causes bad health. Hongzhi’s homophobia also goes beyond simply describing its link to a “black substance” he has also called gays “disgusting,” and prophesizes that one day they will be ‘’eliminated’’ by ‘’the gods.’’
Hongzhi also appears to be a racist.
He teaches his followers that “mixed-race people…[are] instruments of an alien plot to destroy humanity’s link to heaven.” And that these interracial unions are somehow part of “a plot by…evil extraterrestrials.”
More bizarre is that practitioners of Falun Gong believe that “Master Li” actually can “personally install’’ falun (a wheel of law) in their abdomens, can “levitate,” “become invisible” and knows the “top secret of the Universe.”
Hongzhi also changed his date of birth from July 7 to May 13, which is when Buddha was born, reported Asiaweek.
Sound like a personality-driven “cult”?
Margaret Singer, top cult expert, was critical of Falun Gong
“If you want a good description of a cult, all you have to do is read what they say they are,” Margaret Singer told the San Francisco Chronicle at a Seattle conference in 2000. The psychologist, who was the most respected cult expert of the 20th Century observed, “They actually say ‘Don’t Think.’ Just recite the master’s teaching.”
Last month Steve Hassan a cult counselor from Boston told the Chronicle that Li’s followers are “told not to think negative thoughts, and are given fears if they consider any other reality” and that Hongzhi “comes very much out of the cult extreme, the authoritarian stereotype.”
David Clark, a Pennsylvania cult counselor sees Falun Gong’s human rights campaign as a “clever marketing mechanism.” “It is a way of gaining access to get people to join the cause,” he said.
“I consider myself a victim of the Falun Gong because my parents were hurt by it, and the harmony of our family has been seriously damaged,” a Chinese massage therapist who practices tui na, told the Chronicle in December.
An anti-Falun Gong Web site has been launched to expose “the false and contradictory claims of Li Hongzhi.”
For example, regarding health Hongzhi teaches “the root cause…is karma…That’s the root cause of people’s health problems, it’s the chief source of them. Of course, there are two other forms. One of them is really, really small, high-density tiny beings. They’re something like a cluster of karma.”
This sounds similar to the Scientology belief in so-called “Body Thetans” or BTs, which that group’s founder L. Ron Hubbard claimed originated from outer space clustering on human beings and causing problems.
Such beliefs have allegedly led some Falun Gong devotees to neglect their health by not properly consulting doctors in a timely manner and/or seeking medical treatment and instead relying upon Hongzhi’s supposed powers and religious practices.
Li likewise seems to denigrate hospitals. He says that their “treatment methods are at ordinary people’s level while illness is beyond the ordinary,” He claims, “It’ll be years before today’s Western medicine catches up” with him and what he knows.
Chinese authorities have reported that hundreds of Li Hongzhi’s followers have died in Mainland China due to medical neglect.
So besides racism, homophobia and often-bizarre supernatural mumbo-jumbo it seems Falun Gong can become a health hazard.
It’s no wonder why the Chinese government sees Hongzhi as “evil” and Chinese Americans have become increasingly wary of his disciples participating in their community events.
[b:e22540d027]Li Hongzhi and his PR machine[/b:e22540d027]
[i:e22540d027]CultNews [/i:e22540d027]was soon strewn with comments from Falun Gong followers after an article appeared yesterday examining the racist and bigoted teachings of its founder and leader Li Hongzhi.
Interestingly, the feedback received did not deny that Hongzhi made the disturbing statements quoted, but insisted that they were offered out of context and/or defended them.
One disciple of Hongzhi said, “My understanding is that when gods created man, we were created to god’s image, different races was created by gods of different races and when a child is born from a marriage of two people from different races it will be hard for the gods to trace the child’s origin and therefore hard to save.”
In defense of Hongzhi’s homophobia one member remarked, “Actually all orthodox (upright) religions view this matter in the same way, Christianity included, it is very hard to reach heaven when practicing homosexuality.”
Regarding “Master Li’s” bizarre claim that elderly women would start menstruating again after practicing his religion one member noted, “Can you prove that elderly women who practice Falun Gong DON”T regain their menstrual periods? Have you ever considered the possibility that Li’s teachings in this regard are true? I know for a fact that they are true. I suggest you do more research on the subject before mocking these teachings.”
However, no objective outside research was cited to support Hongzhi’s astounding claim and much like other groups called “cults” that make fantastic claims, the evidence offered is anecdotal stories and/or personal testimonials not corroborated by any scientific peer-reviewed and published studies.
CultNews has also received emails too from Falun Gong members and they frequently consist of the same statements recited over and over again. Much of this feedback emphasizes repeatedly that the sect is being “persecuted” by the Chinese government and that somehow this should ameliorate Li’s racist statements and bizarre claims of supposed supernatural powers.
What all this points up is that Li Hongzhi has a very well-organized network of Falun Gong followers that function like a well-oiled machine effectively handling his public relations and garnering publicity to promote Falun Gong, its agenda and attack “Master Li’s” perceived enemies.
The Epoch Times, a newspaper run by Hongzhi devotees, churns out article after article supporting him, denouncing the Chinese government and generally provides a platform to preach Falun Gong’s beliefs.
Additionally, there are the constant well-organized protests staged by Hongzhi’s devotees outside Chinese consulates and lately they have even taken to the streets staging dramas to gain attention in New York City.
One such performance came complete with fake blood dripping down a woman’s face and shocked Midtown businessmen as they walked down Sixth Avenue. A female Falun Gong member hung over a poll, while another, a man dressed up in a communist uniform pretended to hit her with a club and another woman lay down, acting as if she were dead reported the New York Sun.
Doesn’t all this reflect the type of fanaticism and devotion frequently associated with groups called “cults”?
One protest performance was a chilling tragedy. In January of 2001 five Falun Gong followers doused themselves with gasoline and set themselves ablaze in China’s Tiananmen Square to protest persecution by the Chinese government. Two died, including a 12-year-old child.
One young woman was horribly disfigured and badly crippled.
Again, this appears to be reminiscent of other groups called “cults” such as the Solar Temple suicide in Switzerland that ended in fire, the Jonestown mothers who killed their own children or the members of “Heaven’s Gate” that obediently committed suicide to fulfill the agenda of their leader Marshall Applewhite.
Hongzhi and his disciples claim that there are 70 million Falun Gong followers in China. This number has never been independently verified, but whatever number of adherents exists within China the sect has caused serious concern.
In 2002 the Chinese government blamed Falun Gong for the deaths of 1,900 people by suicide or refusing medical treatment.
Perhaps Western journalists should pay less attention to Hongzhi’s public relations machine and more to what he actually teaches and the consequences of his influence.
[b:e22540d027]Feedback from Falun Gong[/b:e22540d027]
Some interesting responses were posted regarding recent articles about Falun Gong at CultNews.The fiery deaths and mutilations of Falun Gong protesters that set themselves on fire didn’t seem to raise any troubling questions to those still committed to Li Hongzhi and his “evil cult.”
Somehow the horrific spectacle in Tianamen Square was an indictment of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to some Falun Gong devotees it was all a conspiracy and the CCP faked it.
“I have direct experience with communist governments from other parts of the world and this is how they operate. They tell lies upon lies and will double cross their friends and kill them.” And concludes, “I am a scientist in some ways and I believe that anything is possible until proven.”
However, that response directly contradicts a statement made by one of the survivors Chen Guo.
“We decided burning ourselves was the best way,” said Chen, who lost both hands. “It was totally due to our own will. We were not forced by anyone” she told the European news service Reuters.
“We wanted to strengthen the force of Falun Gong,” Chen explained while lying in a hospital bed in her hometown of Kaifeng.
Chen Guo now in her early twenties has a face that is a mass of skin grafts. She has neither a nose nor ears.
Nevertheless Hongzhi’s followers seem to believe whatever they are told through their own propaganda.
“The police in Tianamen Square, that day…had cameras readied to take videos of the incident.”
It was all part of a conspiracy concocted by the CCP.
One devotee said, “the girl and her mother was reported to have NEVER practice Falun Gong.”
But Wang Jindong, the man that masterminded the self-immolations told Reuters, “As to whether I am a practitioner or not, it’s not for other people to say.”
Wang’s face is badly scarred and his fingers blackened from the fire that claimed two lives.
Falun Gong has distributed CDs that claim to unravel the CCP conspiracy.
Here is an interesting comment.
“I’m not sure why you repeatedly refer to Falun Gong as a cult. According to Margaret Singer [there are] Six Conditions for thought reform” says another citing each in an attempt to disprove anyone that might label the group “cult-like.” “Please do more unbiased research to find out the facts,” concludes this comment.
But this Falun Gong devotee must not have bothered to read the article just below the one he or she was commenting about.
That article “Why all the fuss about Falun Gong?” quoted Margaret Singer.
She said, “If you want a good description of a cult, all you have to do is read what they say they are,” Margaret Singer told the San Francisco Chronicle at a Seattle conference in 2000 explaining her expert opinion about the group.
Those remarks drew some harsh feedback.
“Regarding your quote from Margaret Singer, well, let me just say that this whole experience has made me lose any respect for people who claim to be cult experts,” said another one of Hongzhi’s angry disciples.
Chen agreed with Singer. “I think Falun Gong has developed into a cult with anti-human and anti-society characteristics,” she explained.
“I hope those who still believe in this cult can be awakened and throw it away,” she told Reuters. “I don’t want to see another victim like me,” She told Reuters.
Wang concluded, “I feel humiliated because of my stupidity and fanatical ideas.”
But rather than examine and carefully consider those “fanatical ideas” Falun Gong goes on blaming everyone else, especially the CCP.
“Please explain why you don’t have one single page on the biggest cult in the world today: the Chinese Communist Party?” asks one devotee.
“We are dealing with this CCP and its mass of slanderous propaganda that has been exported globally.”
Hongzhi and his followers are quite adept at slinging their own propaganda, which has been effectively transmitted globally, with the help of Western journalists.
It seems that many Westerners are willing to believe almost anything about the CCP, rather than consider Hongzhi’s influence over his followers and its consequences.
The endless attacks against the CCP by Falun Gong devotees don’t change Hongzhi’s racist rant, or his homophobic statements. And that response won’t put Cheng Guo back together; her life has been shattered forever and it will never be the same again.
Why can’t Falun Gong followers consider these things?
“They actually say ‘Don’t Think.’ Just recite the master’s teaching,” observed Margaret Singer.