Straight Dope on Falun Gong

What’s the Straight Dope on Falun Gong? Are they a religion, a cult, or a political organization? Are they tied into the Moonies somehow? What’s the deal with The Epoch Times?

The Falun Gong is a cult. That being said, they are being brutally treated by the Chinese government. They have maintained a more or less constant protest against the Chinese embassy in Manhattan. I spoke to a member who had the glassy stare of any good brainwashed cultist. Having the idea that the Chinese would respond to protest just goes to show the extent of that brainwashing. It is very sad really.

Here is some information on them:

As much as I don’t think cults are right, no one should be treating anyone with the brutality that the Chinese Govt. is known for.

It doesn’t seem they are tied to the Moonies but there are some Moonieish beliefs.

If the word cult is going to mean anything sensible whatsoever, it can’t have anything to do with beliefs. Calling a religious group a cult, if it is to be anything more than an empty insult, has to be due to that group’s behaviors. Cults are controlling and exploitative and do not allow members to leave once they have joined. Cults attempt to cut their followers off from the rest of the world and encourage a total commitment to the cult to the exclusion of keeping ties with family members outside the cult. In short, cults are just like abusive spouses, parents, or partners.

Others can use their own definition that is based more or less on deviance from orthodox belief systems. But by that metric, every religion is a cult.

As I understand cults, one of their defining characteristics is a leader who is deeply revered and often considered more than human. I’m not an expert on Falun Gong, but they seem to have that going in spades.

From Merriam-Webster:

1 : formal religious veneration : WORSHIP
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents

Read about this group. They are controlling. This man does demand complete loyalty to him. This is one of the more bizarre ones. It has the charasmatic leader. The whole shebang. It has everything to do with their beliefs and actions.

Every religion is not a cult. The religion I am in encourages exploration and questions and relationships with those who may not agree with you. It is part of the learning process.

I don’t see how your premises/definitions support your sweeping conclusion that “all religion is a cult.”

Most mainstream (i.e. non fundamentalist) religious groups in the US are not objectively exploitative, do not prevent members from leaving once joined, do not attempt to cut followers from the rest of the world, nor do they encourage “total” commitment to the cult, whatever that might mean. We can debate the term “exploitative,” but remember that religion as practiced differs from religious doctrine. I’d go a step further and say many fundamentalist groups do not fit these criteria either, although exceptions certainly exist.

The Chinese Government supposedly try to discredit them by saying they practise “dangerous beliefs”, such as teaching their followers not to go to hospital for treatment, avoid medication and that they will be invicinble, unharmable by any weapons.

He agrees with you, Ithink: he’s objecting that a casual use of the term “cult” risks incorporating damn near everyone.

Derleth improves with many readings.

According to The Independent, they also have highly unnattractive views on homosexuality and race, believe that their leader can fly, walk on water and talk to god, and encourage absolute obedience to the movement’s commands. On the other hand, the meditation/exercise technqiues that make up a good deal of Falun Gong’s core beliefs apparently do have health benefits and were officially endorsed by the Chinese government prior to their popular (not necessarily political) demonstrations in 1992 or thereabouts. I don’t think they are an overtly political movement (most of their demonstrations seem to be basically “stop persecuting us”- which is reasonable, I suppose). They seem to be focused on spiritual development, whatever that may mean.

Does anyone know how the government tracks down believers? All I ever hear about are protesters getting arrested during protests. Finding them when they’re not gathered in large, obvious groups seems kind of unproductive to me. Not to justify the government’s actions or anything, but maybe if they stopped protesting, they’d stop being persecuted?

Just as an anecdote, my grandma and several or her friends were heavily into Falun Gong some 8 years back. They’ve all since dismissed it as bogus but back then they bought all the books and slept with them under their pillows and crap. Everybody knew and nobody cared. Except, of course, for LittleRamenMonster and her cousin who thought it would be hilarious to make fun of it every chance they got :rolleyes:

Well, given that citizens can be arrested and imprisoned for crimes such as possessing a photograph of the Dalai Lama, I should imagine that they arrest anyone they find in possession of the books, photographs of the leader, Falun Gong equipment (those mediation mats, for example), whatever. As to how they find them? Well, China is a police state- surveillance and random searches, I’d think.

Plus every block has a “nosy neighbor” who will turn you in. (1.)

  1. “The Execution of Mayor Yin and Other Stories from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” Chen Jo-hsi

Great book.

FWIW, my tai chi teacher once mentioned that there really is a Falun Gong school of qigong, but that the well-known Falun Gong people don’t actually practice it.

Random searches? cite? China is very far away from a police state and nobody I know living there would tolerate random searches of their apartments without a warrant or just cause.

Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square ring a bell?

What, you think EVERY day in China is June 4th?